Healthy Romance Writers Make Better Lovers

I’m about to go to my very first Romance Writers’ Convention. Because there’s no Writers Conventions for Dummies book, I am making some mistakes and scrambling madly to correct them. One is that I need business cards of a certain type. With a picture. Of me. Hell, no – sigh. Okay, maybe.

Another is I needed to be added to the Yahoo loop for the convention so I can print out all the workshop papers that I will need. Yowzer! I expect to take my laptop along, so maybe I will just keep electronic files.

The other mistake is that I just realized the hotel has a pool. And a gym room. So there’s no excuse for me to not get some exercise. I have a bathing suit. They have towels. I have cross trainer shoes. They have treadmills. And I am bringing my resistance band for the upper body workout I need.

I love Jude Deveraux, her writing is fun and imaginative. She is quoted as saying, “Read everything you write aloud. It will help you catch run-on sentences and find the words you’ve left out or mistyped. You’ll hear if your dialogue sounds artificial or stilted. And you’ll help the audio person who reads your book on tape. Rhyming character names need to be changed!

“Also, walk while you read aloud. Most writers get too little exercise and pacing helps build the quota.

“Speaking of exercise, I would highly recommend that you do a lot of upper body weight work. Keep your forearms and shoulders strong.”

Your mind and body are one, and your body is so interconnected, it’s scary. Untreated tooth decay and infections can go right to your heart. Sinus infections can hit your brain. Get lots of rest, hang out with positive people, and do daily exercises both mental and physical.

Take your vitamins, see your doctor and dentist regularly, drink lots of water, get a new toothbrush every month if you can afford it, floss daily, and talk to your relatives about their health issues. Genetics are important parts of your health picture, but you are more than that.

Finally, write things that make you smile, make you cry, and make you excited to keep writing. Put your heart, soul, and liver into your writing. If your work is not exciting you to keep writing, throw in a plot complication. And be sure to have someone in your life with whom you can research the happily ever after kiss at the end.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday with all the information from the convention.


Don’t Look Back

Last night we watched one of our favorite movies of all time, Spirited Away. There’s an awesome paranormal love story woven in to the adventure, and the growth of the main character is done to perfection. However, I noticed near the end that Chihiro is told “Don’t look back” as she goes away from the bath house. Unlike Lot’s wife, she manages this simple task. Not looking back is very important for most people. Regrets can bog a person down in depression and guilt, which makes moving forward through life really tough. My husband and I try not to indulge in it too much, even though we both wish we could have met sooner. The scary part is, there’s a chance we could have met up decades before we did. But that would mean such a big change in our lives, where our children come into it, that it’s not worth it. I wouldn’t trade my daughter and son for anything in existence, even with all the tears and heartaches involved. Characters, however, need to look back sometimes. Delivering back story is a necessary evil of writing fiction. Without creating an info dump, or making the character look stupid for having to be told things he or she should already know, the writer needs to explain about the family curse on the beautiful diamond ring which was stolen during the rush of English citizens to get out of France and then turned up in a pawn shop and purchased by the hero who is engaged to the heiress who should by rights have the ring in her possession. I do my best to bring up the facts in a painless way, usually through conversation between characters. In Main Course, the twins talk about the fact that their father is against his eldest son joining the army, and that he has been out of London for a very long time pursuing a female person in the country. If you didn’t read Appetizer in the Regency Banquet series, then you would still know why Roland has to switch identities with his twin, Bernard, and that the beautiful Aunt Vivienne is providing companionship to Mr. Curtis. Also they discuss the fact that sister Ellen is married and not able to see through their plan. This is a process I know I can always learn to do better. There are great articles available to help any writer. Should you write a flashback scene? What is it about Lot’s wife? You can’t move forward without looking back. Pretty much, a fictional character who doesn’t look back is either amnesiac or one dimensional. So learn how to do backstory before you do anything else. But for yourself, keep your mental eyes forward unless you are remembering something you want to write about. Then, it’s all good. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back Sunday, probably late because I will be attending my first Writers’ Convention, California Dreamin’. #excitedbeyondwords

What If?

I’m a little woozy after having novel surgery done today. I met with a couple of very sharp, very supportive writers and let them flay The Viscount’s Mouse. The story started out as a tale of a young, plain, disabled woman of little means who takes a job as a governess, only to be sexually harassed by the brother of her employer. He eventually realizes he loves her, but she is fired and goes off to find her really rich and noble relatives. There’s more stuff before the happily ever after. Well, forget that. Continue reading “What If?”

The Con Game

I want to share with you the wonderful authors who made up the rest of the panel at ConDor about Self-Publishing: What Really Happens. I had a great time with the very interactive audience, and three very smart writers of a nice selection of books. And they are all self published.

Doug Welch I had met on my first day at the convention as he sat in on the panel with me and discussed “You got Monsters in my Romance.” He’s a man who writes romances, but of a paranormal bent. He took the path of self publishing so he could throw his books out and see what happened. He found out that people really like his writing, and his books are all top sellers. He also did not go with the Kindle Direct Koolaid, and has his titles available in many different places, as well as easily created in physical form.

The moderator of the panel turned out to be Dr. J. L. Doty, but he also goes by Jim. He writes some pretty heavy paranormal adventures in the SF and F category. He self-published all his books, and they are so good he didn’t need to do much marketing. The science fiction fans are pretty hungry for hard science stories and they love to share new finds with each other. A lot like Romance readers. Jim claims that science is a passion, but writing is an addiction. And while he does contemporary urban fantasy, he won’t write vampires. He was very obliging to me when I wanted to say something or ask the audience a question.

Last and certainly not least, Kevin Gerard helped define self publishing for young adult fantasy authors. His amazing series, Diego’s Dragon, is the first YA story featuring a hispanic boy as the main character. Kevin stated he bugs Oprah and any celebrity of similar status who might be interested in spreading word about these great stories.

We talked about Goodreads, Bookbub, Facebook, Twitter, and a Mother-Daughter Book Review site. Mailchimp also came up in the conversation. The point is, there are so many tools out there for self published writers, you can get all the help you need to promote your work.

The first step is to write a good story. All of my fellow panelists have done this. After that, everything will fall into place. Don’t hesitate. You might be like Amanda Hocking, a self-published writer who sold millions of books, to the point where the traditional houses took note. She received a two-million dollar contract from St. Martin’s Press, and is still going strong. Her Tyrelle Trilogy is being optioned for movie rights.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.

Now, I Are One

Back around the dawn of creation, a certain institute of learning ran a commercial about getting certified in a field that you couldn’t spell until you signed up with them. The joke version went, “Two years ago I could not spell college student. Now, I are one.”

I know the feeling. I am scratching this out long hand, pen and paper, while waiting for the beginning of a workshop I’m running at a local convention. No big deal as I have run this workshop before at past conventions. I have another workshop scheduled for Sunday, as well, and also one I have done before.

What astonishes me is that I am speaking on two panels. As a published author. Like a real writer and stuff. The first one is “You got Monsters in My Romance.” Okay, I can talk to that subject. I am dabbling in a shape-shifter romance, as I have discussed on here before. And if we define “monster” as supernatural, my Greek god in the Bowman’s Inn anthologies qualifies.

The second panel is “Self-Publishing: What Really Happens.” I guess I can tell everyone not to do what I did. Don’t wait almost a year to get the second book out. Don’t skimp on self-promotion. And don’t trust a loved one who isn’t quite as in to the process with a critical job. Maybe I will just sit at the end and not say much. Smile and wave.

Now I have transcribed this onto my computer and I have survived one workshop and one panel. The workshop was not advertised, so no one really knew what it was and one person showed up. She was a fun geeky young woman, and we had fun.

The panel was fun, not only did I get a few laughs, I got names of books to look into. I shared favorite movies and we talked about the problems with immortals falling in love with mortals. Why would a vampire want to keep as a mate one of its herd, its food source? I love fans, they think of these things as if the answers are very important. And the other panelist, Doug Welch, is a pleasure to work with. I can’t wait to find his books, and anticipate his Monster Romance one coming soon, Watcher’s Demon.

The best part of this weekend is the feeling of being a successful writer, a good teacher, and an entertaining speaker. Don’t know if those were my life goals, but I won’t complain. Achievement Unlocked. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday, maybe with an update on the last day of the convention.

Karma and Character Arcs

Construction a story of any length requires the same amount of thought and detail. If you are a pantser, which means you write by the seat of your pants and don’t outline in great detail, you still have to have a beginning, and a middle, and an end. Your characters need to change and grow. No matter what your characters are doing, you need to ask “WHY?” and be able to answer that.

In my personal life, I am as happy as I have ever been. Things are mostly stable, and with the exception of the party animals in two different houses in my neighborhood, I’m not going to complain. In some ways, it’s Karma. I have put myself at the disposal of friends when they needed me, I have given of my talents to many different groups, and I have reached out to help anyone whenever I could see a chance to assist them. But I have also done a few things that perhaps I shouldn’t. Hence the loud music from the neighbors most evenings.

My recent RWA meeting had a workshop on character arcs, given by the talented Susan Meissner. She used examples from movies and books. I haven’t seen most of the movies. I don’t plan to see the Titanic, no matter how great the character arcs are. I’ll take your word for it. But I will watch You’ve Got Mail. I’ll even rewatch Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and The Wizard of Oz. And I am reading Stephen King’s The Stand.

Let’s look at my character Roland Curtis from the Regency Banquet series upcoming novella, Main Course – Pure Captivation. He’s the eldest son of a rich but untitled family. He’s clever and knows how to get his own way, and likes to be in charge. He’s considered for promotion in the army after a year of service, a goal he’s been striving for. All that changes when he meets and falls almost instantly in love with Maryse. Sure, he’s wounded and feverish, but she’s pretty and gentle and broken inside. The only way he can help her heal is to let her be in charge, especially when they make love. He finds that falling for her is worth giving up his Alpha role.

Is it Karma that he would not have found love without this change? Is it Karma that he willingly gave up his information so that his captors could ransom him? Roland now needs filling out as a character. He was not a nice brother to his little sister Ellen, but he’s been good to his twin brother until he came up with his plan to join the army. Even without doing massive outlines, I have room to work with the character and his “WHY?”

Speaking of Karma, I’ve had a pretty bad cold for the last three weeks or so. I’m going to the doctor’s office today. And I will be reading The Stand. That’s your basic, in your face Karma right there. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.

Reading is to Writing What a Fuel Injector is to a Car Engine

Using books to see the world and then travel across the USA, I have recommended a few books that sounded interesting to me but I had not read. I wanted to read them. And now I can tell you I have read two of them. Well, two more of them. And I want you to know how good they have been.

The first one is Good Grief: A Novel by Lolly Winston. This one attracted my attention because a family member had been recently widowed, and I thought the book might appeal to her as she worked through her own sorrow. The situations are very different, but still, some of the basics are the same across the board.

Take note that this is not a Romance. It might be chick lit. Lots of readers think that, apparently. The female main character doesn’t meet her love interest until nearly half way through the book. Well, she does kind of meet him, but not the way you expect it to go. And there’s no firm happy ever after ending, but the ending is so delightful, I hope that won’t discourage anyone.

Sophie is so wonderfully eccentric, and so adrift without the stabilization of her husband in her life any longer. She has hair that is willful, she thinks 25 pounds make her fat, and she thinks every baby is asking her why she doesn’t have her own baby.

She also takes in strays, and the teen she is matched up with reminds me so much of my own daughter, it scared me. The girl, Crystal, is berated and put down by her mother. She is desperately missing her father, a hero she has constructed from the little information she has about him. And she deals with the pain of life and her feelings by cutting. I just cried.

You don’t have to have lost a spouse to enjoy this novel. It’s a great read and a nice way to sooth feelings for any loss in your life. Lolly Winston is now on my Must Read list.

The second book is a paranormal romance, How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper.
The female main character, Mo, is eccentric, but she has nice, straight, manageable hair. She meets the wolf of her dreams early on, and when she realizes he is a werewolf, she takes it really well. Part of that is from the very strange upbringing she had. But part of it is from the He’s-The-One sense she gets from Cooper. One thing I loved about the book is the secondary male character who is sweet, good looking, and would be so easy to love. The writer creates him as a real person, and not to spoil things for you, but he gets his own happy ever after. The message seems to be, Ladies, go to Alaska to meet a handsome man who is husband material.

Well, as long as you don’t mind him peeing on the door step to mark his territory. Or talking in a canine language to your dachshund. And not being able to keep track of his clothes after he changes into a wolf, so he ends up naked a lot. One would think he would have frostbite on certain really important parts.

The odd thing about these two books, both heroines ended up in food service. They both brought new and wonderful changes to the places where they became employed. Do you know how hard it is to stay on a diet while reading about savory cheese cakes and chocolate chess squares? I vow I will never write a story where a character is a cook. Unless he or she is a really bad one.

Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Thursday.