Friday, October 28, 2016

Fall Happiness

Fall is in the air and I am thrilled.  I love this season. October brings my birthday and my husband’s. We celebrate the anniversary of the night we first met. My son gets excited about his Halloween costume and we all love our annual visit to the local pumpkin patch. 



We also have some less traditional fall events that make this time of year special. We get spectacular sunsets over the ocean.



And for some reason, tiny fish and other sea critters get swept up to our edge of Monterey Bay each fall. Following the fish are all kinds of birds, sea lions and dolphins.  Even humpback whales stop by sometimes and surprise us by leaping out of the water, slapping their tails, and blowing their spouts. Here is one feeding near the shore, coming very close to a boat!



But this fall is extra special, because I have a book coming out.  Home Free.  And the story feels like a celebration of the season. It is the story of a man, fresh out of prison, who falls in love with a woman imprisoned by her own anxiety.  He is thrilled to experience the world and all that freedom has to offer, while her instinct is to hide from everything.



The story takes place in the fall, and bringing my characters together in that setting was lovely.  The hero, Arch Hoffman, is mourning a decade lost behind prison walls.  The change of seasons feels brand new for him.  He’s so grateful for cooling temperatures, golden aspen leaves and shorter days, because it’s proof that he’s out in the world again.  



Arch’s enthusiasm for life helps the heroine, Mandy, overcome her anxiety.  He encourages her to embrace the uncertainty of the world, and as she tries new things and finds success, her confidence grows and she breaks free from fear. 



Because of Thanksgiving, fall feels to me like the season of gratitude. And both Arch and Mandy feel so much gratitude in this book. No matter what happens between them, they can see how their relationship transforms and heals them both.

I wish you all a wonderful fall filled with family, friends, and fun.  I’d love to hear, in the comments, what you enjoy about this magical season!

And please join me as Home Free goes on book tour!
November 3rd, Harlequin Blog
November 4th-5th, Just Contemporary Romance (with a fun giveaway!)
November 7th - 11th Tasty Book Tours Blitz (Over 30 stops! With an Amazon gift card giveaway!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's That Time of Year

By Angel Smits

When I was growing up, one of my favorite holidays was Halloween.  I love autumn.  I was born in October (Yes, right on the cusp of Libra and Scorpio, so I pick whichever one matches my mood.)  There were always parties, fun and family gatherings. 
The air cooled off, and the leaves crackled when I walked through them on my way home from school.   Time changes and there’s more darkness at the end of the day.  It’s a magical, secretive time.   
Sometime, not long after school started each year, I’d start planning what I wanted to dress up as for the Halloween party at school. It was always tough, not because I couldn’t figure it out, but because there were so many choices.  I remember being a fairy princess one year.  My mom glued glitter (which I’m sure they’re still finding in corners of the school) to a crown and wand.  There was one year I dressed up as Cousin It from the Addams Family, combing my hair over my face.   And I loved being a gypsy with a long flowing skirt and ton of jangly jewelry. 

Oh, and then there was the year of the cat...
To say I had a bit of an over- active imagination would be an understatement.  And while it was useful, it also had a bothersome side.  Not only was I day dreaming, I had very vivid dreams at night.  And quite often nightmares. 
One of the most vivid ones was on Halloween.  How scary is it that I still remember that dream from when I was a kid?  We had put one of the masks we’d worn, a craggy old witch, up on top of the curtain rod in our room.  It had to have been the last thing I saw before I fell asleep.  It makes sense that I’d dream about a witch.  She chased me through the woods near our cabin.  I kept trying to hide, but she kept finding me.             
My poor sister, who shared a lot of things with me, including a room, also got to share my bad dreams since she was the first person I’d wake up.  She’d get so irritate, and I’m not sure she’s quite forgiven me yet.  But I always knew she was there, and I could usually go back to sleep knowing I wasn’t alone.  I remember burying my head under the pillow that night, though.  Because that witch mask was still up there and I could see the silhouette of it in the shadows. 
Growing up, I learned to channel my dreams into stories.  It helped make the bad dreams go away, or at least fade.  I’m sure my husband is thrilled I don’t wake him up like I did my sister.  He’s heard the horror stories, though. 
I have always written better at night.  Turn off the lights, let the quiet of the night settle in, snuggle down into the covers and somehow the words flow.  It’s like I channel that overactive kid.  Maybe she did have a purpose. 
Either that or I just still like to make believe.  Hope you have some great Halloween memories, and some great costumes you got to play in.  Heck, what are you going to dress up like this year?       


Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Perfect Cover!

No matter how many books you publish, there are always certain milestones in an author's writing life. Obviously, having the proposal or manuscript accepted for publication is a great one! And actually holding your finished book in your hands, is another fabulous one. But in-between there are some other cool milestones.

Earlier this week, Kris talked about the fun she and our Senior Editor, Victoria, had coming up with an appropriate title. Although I enjoy coming up with a working title for my current work-in-progress, there's nothing quite like knowing that a particular title is the final one. The one that will be one the cover. I received the title for my next New Jersey Ice Cats series -- which is out in February -- and loved it. A Perfect Strategy sums up Scotty Matthews and Sapphire Houlihan's story ... perfectly :)

Another fun milestone is when you see the blurb that will appear on the back of the book. This is the one that Victoria came up with for A Perfect Strategy:

Is there really life after hockey? 
If there's one thing Scotty Matthews knows, it's hockey. Unfortunately, the former New Jersey Ice Cats captain isn't proving successful at life after hockey. His wife's left him and he's lost his post-ice job as a media commentator. All he's got now is a big empty show house. 
If there's one thing Sapphire Houlihan knows, it's that she never wants to be tied down to anyone or anything ever again. Unfortunately for her, a wonderful one-weekend distraction with Scotty turns into something much more complicated… Because he's a guy who wants way more than one weekend.

Also ... perfect!

Which leaves one of my favourite milestones - the cover.

The Art Department has been kind to me with some fabulous covers for my books. A Perfect Strategy was harder for them than previous books because Scotty is an older hero, while Sapphie is younger.

I always try to give some guidance on what I imagine my hero and heroine to look like. This time, I used two actors from the TV series Motive - Warren Christie and Kristen Lehman - who were really close to how I'd pictured Scotty and Sapphie.











So, without further ado, here is the perfect cover! Didn't they do a fine job?



















Tell me about your favourite types of covers - do you prefer real people, cartoons, no people or something else.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Introducing New SuperAuthor Jo McNally


Hi, Everyone! I’m Jo McNally, a brand new Harlequin SuperAuthor (saying that makes me feel like I’ve joined a band of superheroes). My debut novel, She's Far From Hollywood, will be released in February 2017, and I can’t wait. It has a sassy heroine and a grumpy hero, and they were both so much fun to write. Check out the cover below, just released last week (isn't it pretty?). It really is a dream-come-true. And guess what? There’s at least one follow-up book coming to the SuperRomance collection after that.

Traditionally (or so I’m told), new SuperAuthors answer some Get-To-Know-Me questions about themselves, so here goes:

What made you choose Supers?
I spent years thinking about writing romance novels. In fact, I started writing my first back when I was ten years old (and it was set on a farm, just like She's Far From Hollywood!). Then I got sucked into the corporate world. I often read romance novels late into the night, and I preferred longer, more complex stories, with subplots, secondary characters and a lot going on. I think one reason I like longer stories is that when I fall in love with a book, I never want it to end! Even back then, I knew Harlequin was the gold standard for romance publishing. And SuperRomance is the series that has all the things I want as a reader – longer, layered, more complex romances with great characters and lots of emotion.

Tell us a little about your road to publication.

Well, the whole, long story is told on my website, but the short version is that I realized climbing the corporate ladder wasn’t my life dream—writing romance was. She's Far From Hollywood is actually my third manuscript, and I really believed in it. So I decided to make a serious investment in myself, joining Romance Writers of America and signing up to go to their annual conference, which was in New York City last year. Included in registration is a 10-minute pitch session with editors and agents. It’s kind of like speed-dating for writers, and it’s very intense. When I arrived for my session, I was totally prepared to meet the editor I’d signed up to meet (I even practiced how to pronounce her name!). But the lovely woman waiting for me explained that the scheduled editor was ill, so she was filling in. Oh, great, I thought, it’s not even the editor I rehearsed for - just my luck. But I smiled gamely and sat down, telling her that I thought my book would be perfect for SuperRomance, in hopes that she’d tell someone in that department. That’s when Victoria Curran laughed and told me I was in luck, because she’s the senior editor for SuperRomance. Score! Victoria was enthusiastic about my pitch and requested a full manuscript. I was beyond excited. But it was another two months before I got The Call. Victoria offered me a contract for what became She's Far From Hollywood, and she worked with me to make it the best story possible. A year later (almost to the day) after getting that call, I’m still pinching myself.

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Ugh! This is such a tough question. There are so many authors I love, and I’m always finding new ones. Outside of the terrific SuperRomance authors, my go-to writers include Susan Mallery, Mariah Stewart and Virginia Kantra. When I want things a little spicier, I go to Jill Shalvis or Shannon Stacey. And I’m constantly finding new-to-me authors. I just can’t stop reading!

What has been your biggest surprise about the publication process?
I was unprepared for the s-l-o-w-n-e-s-s of it all. It’s routine for a year or more to pass between contract signing and publication, and that was a shock. But on the bright side, the camaraderie of the publishing world was a very pleasant surprise. There is this huge, supportive community of authors, regardless of genre. Everyone cheers each other on, and they take the time to help new and struggling authors. It’s such a joy to be a part of it, and the SuperAuthor group is just a microcosm of that wonderful environment. It sounds corny to say it’s a family, but that’s truly how it feels. 

Favorite Holiday?
I love Christmas, but in our house, the big one is St. Patrick’s Day. My husband is a Boston Irish boy, and we’ve made several trips to the Emerald Isle to visit his relatives. I love the land, the people, the history and especially the music. We have a huge party every year with plenty of singing and lots of corned beef and cabbage. And Himself wears his kilt!

Tell us one thing about you that no one would ever believe.
No one? That’s a toughie - people who know me are rarely surprised by anything. But one of my fun facts is this: I collect hedgehogs. Not live ones. But I have stuffed hedgehogs, pinecone hedgehogs, cement hedgehogs, wooden hedgehogs, porcelain hedgehogs, terra cotta hedgehogs, and even a crystal hedgehog! I started collecting as a child, and I have at least a hundred in and around the house, much to my husband’s...um...amusement (that’s probably not the word he’d choose!).

If you could live anywhere on the planet, where would you choose?
Well, I'm not far from there now, living in Eastern North Carolina, but I’d love to actually live right at the beach. I adore listening to the ocean surf - it’s my favorite sound in the world. And walking along the water’s edge is my idea of the perfect thing to do.

Thanks for learning a little about me, and I look forward to getting to know the SuperRomance writers and readers.

Please visit my website, www.jomcnallyromance.com and sign up for updates on She's Far From Hollywood and more SuperRomances to come. You can also find me on Facebook (@JoMcNallyAuthor), Twitter (@jomcnallyauthor), Instagram (jo.mcnally) and Pinterest (@jomcnallyauthor). And don’t forget to check out the SuperAuthor Facebook page, where we all like to share inspirational stories, recipes, pet shenanigans, and Throwback Thursday fun.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

It Always Comes Back to Romance

by Senior Editor Victoria Curran

I feel I must take this moment to mourn the passing of Toronto’s beloved Blue Jays after their final loss to the Cleveland Indians last night in the playoffs to the World Series. It was not a pretty game, and the lack of offensive plays suggests we may not have deserved that Wild Card spot in the first place (but you didn’t hear that from me!).  What has that got to do with romance books? It seems everything comes back to romance books in my life. (Could it possibly be because I talk about it a lot???)

I worked very early to very early yesterday so I could be at the 4 p.m. game with my buddy Sharon who works for the Jays. We had excellent seats that were so close to the field, I felt like I was losing right along with our boys!

And then, of course, there was the after party for Jays and Cleveland staff and special guests (no players, L). Just the kind of party a cheap editor loves: plenty of free food and beer. And coming after the tragic death of the 2016 World Series dream, it was kind of like a funeral but without those little sandwiches.

At one point Sharon, who knew everybody, was standing beside a booth chatting to two women for quite some time while I ate my fifth dessert (chocolate and maple gelato, nice!). My back was hurting so I finally went over and rudely plunked myself down in the booth beside one of the women, a complete stranger to me. Turned out to be TV sportscaster Buck Martinez’s wife. Oops. Because I’d taken a seat, Sharon sat beside the other woman opposite. And then Buck Martinez arrived loaded down with food and I was sitting in his spot.

I quickly stood to get out of there but they squished in on the other side for me to sit three on a bench. And that put me face to face in a tight booth with celebrity sportscaster Buck Martinez. I was star-struck and red-faced and very, very warm. So of course I started talking about Superromance author Stephanie Doyle’s baseball romances and sex. You know. As one will.

And what always happens when a romance editor or author starts talking about romance books? You guessed it: one of the women admitted to me that she always thought she could write a book. I’d had a free beer, though, so I wasn’t about to break her spirit by revealing how many years of work and study usually go into an author’s first book. Heck, she’s sort of a baseball wife who just sat through a major loss. She doesn’t need me to teach her anything about hard work, perseverance and overcoming obstacles. She probably will write that book, and probably will make it to the bestseller list someday.

Oh, and Buck Martinez’s wife wants me to send her Stephanie Doyle’s baseball trilogy. Harlequin Superromance has made it to the Major Leagues! But then, I think we were already there.

Victoria

It Always Comes Back To Romance



Senior Editor Victoria Curran

I feel I must take this moment to mourn the passing of Toronto’s beloved Blue Jays after their final loss to the Cleveland Indians last night in the playoffs to the World Series. It was not a pretty game, and the lack of offensive plays suggests we may not have deserved that Wild Card spot in the first place (but you didn’t hear that from me!).  What has that got to do with romance books? It seems everything comes back to romance books in my life. (Could it possibly be because I talk about it a lot???)

I worked very early to very early yesterday so I could be at the 4 p.m. game with my buddy Sharon who works for the Jays. We had excellent seats that were so close to the field, I felt like I was losing right along with our boys!

And then, of course, there was the after party for Jays and Cleveland staff and special guests (no players, L). Just the kind of party a cheap editor loves: plenty of free food and beer. And coming after the tragic death of the 2016 World Series dream, it was kind of like a funeral but without those little sandwiches.

At one point Sharon, who knew everybody, was standing beside a booth chatting to two women for quite some time while I ate my fifth dessert (chocolate and maple gelato, nice!). My back was hurting so I finally went over and rudely plunked myself down in the booth beside one of the women, a complete stranger to me. Turned out to be TV sportscaster Buck Martinez’s wife. Oops. Because I’d taken a seat, Sharon sat beside the other woman opposite. And then Buck Martinez arrived loaded down with food and I was sitting in his spot.

I quickly stood to get out of there but they squished in on the other side for me to sit three on a bench. And that put me face to face in a tight booth with celebrity sportscaster Buck Martinez. I was star-struck and red-faced and very, very warm. So of course I started talking about Superromance author Stephanie Doyle’s baseball romances and sex. You know. As one will.

And what always happens when a romance editor or author starts talking about romance books? You guessed it: one of the women admitted to me that she always thought she could write a book. I’d had a free beer, though, so I wasn’t about to break her spirit by revealing how many years of work and study usually go into an author’s first book. Heck, she’s sort of a baseball wife who just sat through a major loss. She doesn’t need me to teach her anything about hard work, perseverance and overcoming obstacles. She probably will write that book, and probably will make it to the bestseller list someday.

Oh, and Buck Martinez’s wife wants me to send her Stephanie Doyle’s baseball trilogy. Harlequin Superromance has made it to the Major Leagues! But then, I think we were already there.

Victoria

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Free Books, a Mega Sale, and More!!!

Have you heard? Harlequin is offering some fantastic opportunities to help fill your e-reader with series romance!

First: free books! Visit RomanceWhenYouNeedIt.com, subscribe to Harlequin News, and receive a free book. There's one from every line, so if you have always wanted to read, say, a Medical Romance ... or if you're curious about Heartwarming ... or if you want to be swept away by a Desire ... here's your chance!

 Second: a sale! All backlist titles - close to 19,000! - are on sale (in digital form) at all major U.S. and Canadian vendors (Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Google and Apple.) Please note that this doesn't include bundles and is restricted to titles from July 2016 or earlier. If you're missing a story from one of your favorite Superromance authors, this is the time to grab it. This sale will end October 25, so don't delay!


Third: a getaway sweepstakes! Here's another reason to visit RomanceWhenYouNeedIt: a contest for $10,000 in United Vacations gift cards. Where would YOU like to go?


Be it free books, books on sale, or a chance for the ultimate getaway, there's something for everyone. Visit RomanceWhenYouNeedIt for all the details. Let your romantic adventure begin!



Monday, October 17, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To A Title

Kris Fletcher

One of the (many) steps that takes place in putting a book together is the task of coming up with the title. Harlequin asks authors for title suggestions, but the final decision is not ours. Rumor has it that titles are chosen by a team consisting of editors, folks from the Marketing department, people from departments that authors have never heard of, and possibly a unicorn. There are many factors to consider when choosing a title, and frankly, while I am glad to have input, I'm also delighted to have that decision out of my hands. I mean, it takes me weeks to name a character. If I had to come up with the title myself, the books would never make it to market.
Nevertheless, when I heard the title that had been chosen for my next Comeback Cove, Canada book, I couldn't keep from squealing - because it was one that I had submitted! A story of two people with less-than-perfect pasts now working on their second chances, Two Wrongs Make Right had felt perfect to me when I sent it in. The powers that be agreed and chose it.
I don't mind admitting that I walked around grinning for the next three days. I felt like I had just been informed I'd qualified for MENSA. It was quite a heady sensation when I went to Amazon and saw MY title listed, indeed it was.
And then came The Email.
Not from my editor Piya, but from Senior Editor Victoria, who is a very lovely lady but who rarely contacts me. When I saw the subject line - Title Shenanigans - I knew that the MENSA folks were kicking me to the curb.
As it turned out, people still loved my title. However, when the Art Department was pulling together images for the cover, they came up with a perfect one featuring a man, a woman, and two utterly adorable little girls. There was concern - rightly so - that the sweet girlies could be misconstrued as the "wrongs" of the title, and that simply wouldn't do. We needed a new title and we needed one fast.
Frantic back-and-forth emails ensued. Titles flew, some serious, some silly. (The silly ones were my favorites. I'm still giggling over Victoria's suggestion of MooseJaw Jim.) Then Victoria mentioned a picket fence, and something inside me went, ooooooh.
You see, the characters in this story have many things in common, but one area where they differ very sharply is in what they want for their futures. One of them is actively searching for the proverbial white picket fence and all it entails. The other - not so much.
More suggestions. Picket Fence Dream? It worked for one character, but not the other. Picket Fence Divide? Not Your Average Picket Fence? Picket Fence Surprise? 
Picket Fence Surprise... 
That one called to me. I thought of everything that happens in the book, and yeah. It fit.
I searched Amazon to see if there were other books with that title. Piya searched the Harlequin database. Both came up blank, meaning the title was good to go.
I voted yes. Piya voted yes. Victoria voted yes. And so, next March, PICKET FENCE SURPRISE will make its debut.
The best part? While Victoria came up with the fence, I thought of the surprise. So I might still be able to sit in the corner of those MENSA meetings.

I can't share the fantastic image that led to this frantic reworking, but if you sign up for my newsletter, you'll be the first to see the final cover. And once you see it, you will understand why we HAD to change the title. 

And I would love to know if anyone out there would be interested in a book called MooseJaw Jim. Because I just can't let go of that one. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Question of the Month: Author's Favorites

Authors are asked a lot about favorite reads, favorite characters, and even favorite kissing scenes. October's Question of the Month is along those lines: What are our favorite Superromances? Yes, choosing a favorite book is like choosing a favorite child - impossible (you know, until a child ends up in detention or something)...but we are SuperAuthors and we are going to try. Here are a few of our favorite Superromances (books that we've written), and what makes them special to us:

Vicki Essex: I really enjoyed writing my third novel, IN HER CORNER. It's a sports story, where the heroine, Bella Fiore, is training to be the first female champion in a big mixed martial arts league. I explored a lot of gender issues in this book, and it was challenging and very satisfying to research and call out the inherent sexism, hypermasculinity and misogyny prevalent in the world of sports. It's also one of my favorite romances--the hero, Kyle Peters, has so many issues to overcome, and Bella gets to pry him from his comfort zone and make him face his fears. In my opinion, Bella's one of the best kick-ass female characters I've written.

Claire McEwen: I loved writing my July book, RETURN TO MARKER RANCH. It's a very emotional story. The characters' feelings just flowed right out of my heart and onto the page. Also, it dealt with a few issues that are very dear to me: how we treat our veterans when they come back from war, and how important animals can be in healing our spirits.  Plus, the story ended in a really unique way!  It was a joy to write, from start to finish.

Janet Lee Nye: Well. I don't have too many to choose from but I'm going to have to go with my debut, SPYING ON THE BOSS. First, it was my debut! Second, it dealt with an issue that, as a pediatric/neonatal nurse, is one I deal with quite a lot: children in the foster care system and what happens to them when they "age" out. Plus, it had a strong female friendship and enough snark and inside jokes to keep me giggling. It also was one of those "lightning bolt" stories. We were going through some major changes at my pay the bills job and as a Taurus, let me tell you how much I LOATHE change. It had become a joke around my house for me to constantly being saying, "I'm going to quit my job and do ...fill in the blank." One day, a friend was talking about the really cute guy her cleaning service sent to her house and I said to my Fella, "I'm going to quit my job and open a maid service with all good looking guys!" And he came over, kissed me on the forehead and said, "You don't know anything about running a cleaning service. But you know how to write." And, three years and several almost giving up on it later, it was my Superromance debut.

Nan Dixon: This is so hard. I'm a love the one you're with writer. Each book I've worked on becomes my favorite. But feisty Dolley Fitzgerald and hunky Irishman Liam Delaney from THROUGH A MAGNOLIA FILTER get my vote. Family was always a foreign concept to Liam Delaney. Until research into one of his documentary films brings him to Savannah and Dolley Fitzgerald’s B and B. Dolley’s passion for life and photography is infectious. When she becomes his apprentice, they’re the perfect team . He’s finally found the home he’s always wanted, and it’s all because of her.
Their only problem? He dreams of a home and family. Dolley dreams of adventure and travel. Somehow they must find a compromise.

Kristina Knight: Like Nan, I'm very much a love-the-one-you're-with author, but my second Superromance, FIRST LOVE AGAIN holds a very special place in my heart. First, it's set practically in my backyard (although fictionalized a bit) so I got to put a lot of local color on the pages. Also, it's a very emotional reunion story - Jaime and Emmett were highschool sweethearts, and both have a LOT of baggage to work through...helping them find their happily ever after was very sweet!

Jo McNally: My debut novel SHE'S FAR FROM HOLLYWOOD (coming February 2017) was my favorite to write. Yes, I know that might seem obvious, since it will be my first published novel (although there's already a follow-up story coming to Supers!). But I just loved writing these strong-willed characters and their snarky, snappy dialogue - he keeps calling her "Hollywood." so she calls him "Plowboy." The story hints there will be a rescue taking place, but it's not the one the reader expects. Most importantly to me, despite plenty of humor and heat, the book deals with the important issue of wounded veterans, PTSD, and the alarming suicide rate among vets. I wrote some scenes through tears. And of course, it is my first published novel, so it will always have a very special place in my heart.

Sharon Hartley: My favorite Super is my current release, ACCIDENTAL BODYGUARD.  I used my sister’s former home in central Florida as the setting for about half of that book.  We called her property “The Clark Compound,” and I visited there as often as I could.  I added a few acres, but feel as if I’ve memorialized a very special place and time in this book, allowing me to reconnect with my sister on occasion.

Kris Fletcher: I am quite fond of the one I have coming out in March, but of the ones I have already out, I would have to go with NOW YOU SEE ME. That story kicked around in my head in various incarnations for a long time before it found the right path. In fact, it was my first ever submission to Superromance - and my first Super rejection! And thank Heaven it was rejected, because in the shape it had at that point, it really didn't live up to its potential. But after my first sale, I pulled it out, addressed the issues that were problematic the first time around, tweaked it and played with it and sent it in, and lo and behold, it became my second Superromance. I loved examining the issue of reputations by pairing up the town's legendary bad boy with the widow of the town's hero. It was just a joy to write.

Jennifer Lohmann: My favorite of my books is a A PROMISE FOR THE BABY, and that's because I added one particular scene that makes me giggle years after I wrote it. I loved making the rigid hero line dance at a wedding. Writing that scene was incredibly fun!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Choosing Our Storylines

by Joanne Rock

One of the things I enjoy most about writing Superromances is the chance to explore human nature more deeply. Spending more time--more pages-- with my characters allows me to see more facets to them and share them with readers. This is fun for me because I enjoy discovering multiple facets of people in my day to day life, too. Isn't it interesting when someone you are close to reveals a whole other side of themselves that you never suspected? Sometimes, of course, that can be hurtful if the hidden side is negative. But often the revelation is simply fascinating--the bookish recluse is a proficient belly dancer, for example. Or the rough-around-the edges neighbor turns out to be a regular volunteer at the local soup kitchen.

As writers, we need to be careful about revealing anything too surprising about our characters. Our editors are quick to warn us if a plot point--or character dimension-- feels like it comes out of nowhere. But isn't that sort of true to life? The real world is famous for throwing us the curve balls we never saw coming. In my books though, I try to be sure the backstory supports any contradictions in my characters.

In real life, I often choose my story lines for myself too. They can vary widely from day to day, too.
Multiple character points of view
in my latest Superromance!
Have you ever shared a witty story from your marriage with your parents, reminiscing about how you and your significant other got through a tough parenting moment or a date gone wrong? And then, a few days later, you share the same story with a girlfriend, except then you share how frustrated you were with your spouse at the time? We spin stories all the time in our real life. Both stories are true. But there are shades to our emotions and moods-- during the time the actual event happened and during the retelling. Sometimes my husband's spontaneous behavior is cause for laughter and a welcome distraction. Sometimes, the same moment is proof in my case that he's never serious.

(Author side note: I hate to say I ever mount a "case" against my husband, which makes us sound like we are on opposing sides. Ideally, I never do this. Realistically, some days I do!)

My point is... how interesting is that? I can pick and choose bits of my life and make it sound magical. But if I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I can pick and choose the bits of my life that make me sound like a real trooper having a tough go of things. We are all storytellers in our own lives.

My cute husband, who puts up with me
So, back to writing. Knowing how easily we can bend stories to fit our moods and dispositions, how easy does it become to see alternate points of view? I can introduce the crankiest curmudgeon and on another page, reveal the most tender backstory for that character. Or give the sunniest character a dark side. It's interesting for me as a writer and as a human being, I believe it gives me more empathy. I know the guy in the post office who is tapping his foot with impatience has a whole other side. He's not always snarly. And I like to imagine that side of him to help me stay patient with him.

This trick doesn't always work, but it's fun to try. Reading stories gives us the same psychological insights to people too. It's why I try to encourage my kids to read. Not just to improve their vocabulary or reading comprehension, but to understand human nature and to gain empathy. Where else do they have access to the villain's thoughts to understand what makes a person act on their dark instincts? That's a valuable education. It's great for boys to read female point of view and vice versa, too. How helpful to see how the other gender thinks and feels!

I guess that's my public service announcement for the day. Embrace your villains when you can. Remember there are multiple sides to every story. And when your own life is pulling you down, spin your personal tale in a happier direction. You really can choose your own ending.

***Am I crazy? Or have you told varying versions of the same tale depending on the audience and your mood? No need to reveal anything super personal, but I'm curious if your reality is as flexible as mine is!! I'd make the world's worst autobiography writer.... Visit with me today on the blog and I'll give one random commenter a copy of SEDUCING THE MATCHMAKER along with note cards, notepad and a lovely planner.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Getting Past "The Lull" - Dana Nussio


I am working my way through what I like to call "the lull." This is that gaping hole in time between typing "the end" on one manuscript and writing "Chapter 1" on the next one.
 
The distance between those two points will determine how many books an author can write in a year and how quickly she can give her fans the stories they crave. For some authors, the lull may only last a few hours in afternoon, but other writers need a little longer to recover and reinvigorate.

I fall into that second group. I need time to say good-bye to the characters who've camped in my head for months, reacquaint myself with my real-life family and friends and do some unromantic things like clean my filthy house. I marvel at the gift of those who can dive right into the next story so quickly. I wish I could be like them. But, alas, I'm not, and I guess I can live with that.

Every writer has a process, and mine is to allow my stories to come to me naturally. Often, that means slowly. I begin with a general overview for a plot and a basic idea about who my characters are, and then I let them whisper their stories to me. During this time, I usually have that moment of panic, where I wonder if I still have stories within me, where I worry if the last book I wrote will be my last one ever. These are the voices I choose to ignore. I push through the lull instead. As I catch up on my dusting and ironing, I also begin planning a new book. I tell myself I do have more to say to readers, and then I get started.


So I am back to work again, spending time in the fictional world of the Brighton Post gang in my True Blue series. The series is begging for a Book 3 to follow my March 2017 release, FALLING FOR THE COP, so I have written character sketches and completed GMC statements for Sarah and Jamie and have begun crafting the synopsis. And in the past few days, I have taken the biggest risk of all by starting Chapter 1. So good-bye to "the lull." See you next time.



Thursday, October 6, 2016

Blessings

I’m not normally the type of person who uses the word, “blessings.” Not to imply that I’m not thankful for things in my life or feel gratitude on a daily basis (I do!), but to me, blessings rise to a different level. Blessings are a feeling of gratitude that sinks deep in the marrow of my bones combined with a feeling of luck that makes me feel light on my feet. Blessings bring tears to my eyes, long after the situation has passed.

September was a month when I was reminded of the many blessings in my life.

The Viking’s son--we’ll call him Viking Junior--was in a four-car pileup on the highway while driving my car. Viking Junior walked away with nothing more than a sore chest from the airbag. My wrecked car is my first blessing of September. The outcome of the accident could have been much different if Viking Junior had been driving his car, which is ten years old than mine. Ten years of safety features, a better crumple zone, and airbags means the hood of the car was crushed, but the passenger compartment looks barely touched. The Viking and I are constantly grateful to fate that Viking Junior was driving my car when the accident happened.

 

My second blessing was a reminder that I have the best parents on earth--a phrase that encompases my mother, my father, and my step-mother. It hadn’t occurred to me that my boyfriend’s teenager wrecking my car would be a cause of relationship strife until a friend asked about it. My step-mother always treated my brother and me as one of her own children, while never expecting that we would treat her like our mother. It never occurred to me to treat the Viking’s children differently and incidents like this accident are a reminder of why such a good role model matters.

My third blessing of September involves finances. There’s no question that replacing my reliable, paid-off, steady-Eddie car is a financial hit and we will have to make sacrifices to make a car payment. But we can make a car payment and we are able to get a new car. That makes the Viking and I very fortunate. We have good jobs and have managed our finances carefully. Not everyone is so fortunate.

The fourth blessing is, of course, my relationship with the Viking. Romance novels can come true y’all.

What blessings are in your life?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

October 2016 New Releases

The Good Mom
Cathryn Parry

 It's all for Brandon 

Single mom Ashley LaValley will do anything to help her twelve-year-old son, a cancer survivor, achieve his dream of becoming a doctor. Even uproot their lives and relocate to Boston when Brandon gets a scholarship to an exclusive prep school. Even accept help when Brandon risks flunking out…

Even when that help comes from Dr. Aidan Lowe, an arrogant, abrasive man recently returned from a stint in Afghanistan. But the guy's also charismatic and wickedly sexy. Ashley's spent years putting her son's needs first. Now Aidan's reminding her that she has needs of her own…


Prince Charming Wears A Badge (Tales From Whittler's Creek)
Lisa Dyson

You don't have to believe in magic to find it… 

Callie James never expected a handsome prince or a fairy-tale ending. She already knows that life is full of unhappy-ever-afters—like finding her boyfriend with another woman, and being forced to return to her hometown and deal with her troubled past. 


Fortunately, she's pretty much safe from romantic entanglements. That is, until she discovers the chief of police is also her teenage crush, Tyler Garrett. Now she must find a way to face her wicked stepfamily, win over Prince Charming…and save herself in the process.  



Accidental Bodyguard (The Florida Files)
Sharon Hartley

She can't make the same mistake again

Claudia Goodwin loved and trusted once. Now she's running from the man she thought would never hurt her. Hiding in the breathtaking beauty of a private Florida island until she can testify against her ex-husband, a ruthless terrorist, she has to stay focused on survival.

Sexy security expert Jackson Richards is the perfect man to have on her side, but trusting anyone—even him—isn't an option. The one thing she can't keep hidden is the crackling attraction between them. And desire for the man keeping her safe might not be enough to protect her heart…or her life.
 



The Rancher's Prospect (Montana Skies)
Callie Endicott

Digging a little deeper  

Running his family's ranch has always been Josh McGregor's dream. Dealing with his feisty grandfather, however, is not. Josh is struggling to maintain control, and ranch manager Tara Livingston doesn't help. The only thing they agree on is ignoring the attraction between them.

Tara has a special bond with his grandfather, but she won't stay in Montana forever. Yet her bold nature challenges Josh, making him question his goals. When Tara takes his grandfather on a treasure-hunting trip to the mountains, Josh has no choice but to go along. They may not find jewels, but they could come back with something even more valuable…
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