So, it’s the question I ask myself every time I sit down at the computer with the intention of writing my next story. Do I write something that’s hot with the market or the story that’s rolling in my head? And trust me when I say … they’re not usually the same.
Now, let me clarify by saying that I’ve never written a story where I wasn’t proud of the final product. It’s just that I’ve enjoyed writing some more than others. And I have yet to have any characters just run away with the story. Nope. Soooooo not me. I’m really envious of authors who say they couldn’t type as fast as their characters talked or that scenes unraveled and they were just along for the journey.
Yeeeeah. Maybe some day.
But until then I weigh and measure which story to work on next. I have figured out I’m a one story author. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t left some of my novels to write something shorter, but I don’t work on two stories at a time. I’m singularly focused. I do have several plot ideas rolling around in my head, all the time, but until I have a really good idea where they’re going I can’t put fingers to keyboard.
For the last couple of years I’ve been really focused on what is selling in the erotic market. I’ve tailored my characters to fit in that mold. And you know what … it was hard. I’m proud of the stories and pleased with the end product, but the journey to completion wasn’t fun. Now don’t get me wrong … everyone, no matter how much they love their job, has those days when they just don’t really want to show up and when work is just that … work. And the same is true for me.
But the last book I re-wrote, the one where the rights reverted back to me, was a wonderful journey of being reintroduced to characters I loooove and writing that makes me VERY proud. It’s a futuristic erotic romance titled A TOUCH OF LILLY and is set in deep space. I really enjoyed creating the aliens and weapons and discovering a new setting. When this was out with a publisher, the reviews were awesome! The sales? Not so much. And that’s supposed to be all right because my writing should be about the story and not about what the readers are buying.
Or should it?
Let’s face it. I’m writing to make a living. I’ve never hidden that fact. When my body gave itself over to the MS I was forced to stop working. My writing has become my new career. Failure is not an option … okay, that has more to do with how I’m wired rather than my need to buy groceries and pay the electric bill. But still, I want this new career to keep me contributing to my family’s budget. So then I vacillate back to … write what the readers are buying. And with this new self-publishing thing going on it means I do have flexibility. I’m not bound to what publishers are buying. Still …
It’s a ping pong match in my head with stories vying for my attention. I don’t know what the answer is. I wrestle with it every time I sit down to write a new story. Ideally, I’d like a balance of both worlds, a story that is fun to write and one the readers will love. I have no idea if I’ll ever find the middle of that road, but I’m working on it.
So as an author, where do you head with your stories? And as a reader do you read by genre or by author or a balance of both? Because I’m dying to know.
And because this is my blog and a place for me to do a little marketing. Here’s the new cover from Dar Albert … an aaaamazing cover artist and the blurb:
Ex-Chicago detective LILLY D’ANGELO has a secret she doesn’t share with anyone. A master of the one night stand, she’s given up ever finding a soul mate and thrown herself head first into her career. That is, until she captures the wrong alien. Kidnapped and sold into the sex slave trade, she’s shipped into deep space. Barely escaping with her life, Lilly now travels the galaxy working as a bounty hunter using her secret talents to bring down criminals and seeking revenge on the one male who ruined her life.
Agent DALLAS SAWYER works for deep space’s version of the FBI. After a disastrous mission that left several of his team members murdered, a president executed, and Dallas near death, he’s determined to take down the assassin targeting government officials. When a sexy human female gets between him and his goal, Dallas and his alien partner find themselves on the receiving end of a passionate night they won’t soon forget and a proposition that may very well blow up in their faces.
Because in deep space … true love can happen with just a touch.
I can’t let today go by without telling everyone how fortunate I am to have such a wonderful mom. She raised 5 children (each of us a year apart … you do the math … FIVE teenagers! And she survived!) She’s been wonderful as I’ve become a mom. She hangs back until we ask for advice and then gently shares her wisdom. Mom lives far away from me and though we don’t talk on the phone very often, I think about her every day.
But 28 years ago when I married Mr. Nina another wonderful mom came into my life. I’m so fortunate to have someone else who loves me unconditionally, supports and encourages. I truly am doubly blessed.
Though my life is in complete turmoil, these two women have stepped forward to do what they can to bring order to the chaos. They both bring me to tears every day and I don’t think they realize how much their love and support has meant over the past few months as the bottom tumbled out of our world.
I also have three beautiful children, one love-sick son-in-law whom I adore and a cute-as-a-button-never-stops-running grandson.
I have a trunk full of all the cards and little goodies my children made for me when they were little and though it is in storage at the moment, the memories never fade. Little Boy Blue (who’s now 22) made me a hand pressed in plaster that hangs from a pretty ribbon. Beautiful Girl (now 24) made me a clay mask of her face in second grade and painted it all kinds of whimsical colors. Baby Girl (who’s now a mom) weaved a yarn thingy that fits just perfectly over my body moisture bottles that sit on my bureau. There are countless gifts of weaved baskets, clay pots, and a wooden treasure chest … all gifts my children made and gave to me on Mother’s Day. They are more precious to me than all my fine jewelry.
Now that they’re older, my children give me gifts of words. Hallmark cards scrawled with a little note at the end, loving words from the heart that make me cry. Every. Time.
And despite all the other #%@^ of my life … all these things I hold onto ever so dearly and realize how truly blessed I am. I know many of my blog readers have moms looking down on them from heaven. The reminder that everyone’s days are number makes me appreciate the small gesture of love even more.
If you’re a mom … Happy Mother’s Day. And I hope this day finds you counting your blessings as well.
Life has been a little hectic as of late. But Mr. Nina and I are trying to settle into what we affectionately call “our new normal”. Which means my muse is chomping at the bit to get something going.
The best I can do for her at the moment is update a book which I’ve just received the rights back and now we’re spit-polishing it for re-release. Hopefully before the end of the month A TOUCH OF LILLY will be available at most retailers … Yay!
In the meantime, I thought I’d share how I came about finding the names of my main characters in this sexy erotic suspense novel.
Being the visual person that I am, I can’t even get one sentence down without knowing exactly who my characters are. And it’s not so much who they are and where they came from, as a pantser that stuff just sort of unravels itself while I write. Nope, I’m talking about their names.
That’s right. You should see what I go through to discover who my characters are. I start with the site Baby Names. I usually have an idea of at least a letter which helps with my search. And some names are easy to eliminate. I mean you don’t want an hero named Edwin or Arthur. Neither of those names conjure up a sexy alpha hero capable of being both commanding and gentle. (But Dallas … there’s a name can work with!)
The same is true when it comes to naming your heroine. Hester, Evelyn and Ruth bring to mind grandmothers, not kickass women ready to save the world. That doesn’t mean that in certain situations the name doesn’t work. I’m just talking generalities.
If baby names doesn’t work for me, I use Random Name Generator. What I like about this site is I can decide how obscure I’d like to make the name. And if that doesn’t work, I end up rifling through the phone book.
Once I have their full name I’ve got an idea what the character looks like in my mind. I go to Female Celebrities and Wet Men and search out actors and actresses who fit my vision. I like to choose people in the media because I can google their images and find a couple of pictures that I can put on my character profile. But sometimes (like in the case of a sexy alien) only a little touching up will do
Once I have the pictures of my characters I put them in a document and make lists of eye color, hair descriptions and body characteristics (like tattoos) as I’m writing. Often times the characters quirky habits or their childhood backgrounds are added to the list as well. The nice thing about all of this is that I often don’t intend to write series stories, but inevitably, I fall in love with characters and want to continue their story. These photos then can be used when the characters decide I haven’t quite finished telling their story.
Probably more information than you ever wanted to know about all the hoops I jump through to meet my characters and begin writing a story, but there you have it.
This week I’m jumping into the fourth book in the Darynda Jones “Grave” series, Fourth Grave Beneath My Feet. I love this series. Why? One word … characters. Ms. Jones has created a cast of characters that I have completely fallen in love with and can’t wait to see what happens next in their lives. Of course creating memorable characters that readers fall in love with is the goal of every writer who puts fingers to keyboard. Anyway, this got me thinking about characters over the years that were so strong/handsome/kick-ass that I still think about them. In no particular order …
1. Meggie Cleary (The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough) This feisty redhead knew what she wanted and went after it even when it wasn’t proper. When she couldn’t have the man she loved, she tried her darnedest to love the man she was with.
2. Burke Basile (Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown) – This gruff detective is sure he just wants revenge. In typical Brown storytelling of course he finds love is much sweeter.
3. Ayla (The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel) – Wow, what can be said about this heroine. She just keeps on keeping on. Surviving in the wild, she learns to communicate with animals. She names her horse “Whinnie”, not the name … the sound.
4. Nell Channing (Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts) – She is from the first in the “Three Sister’s Island” trilogy. I love these witches, but this first sister doesn’t know she’s a witch and that’s why I think I love her all the more.
5. Charles Wallace (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle) – A boy who travels through time and space… what’s not to love?
6. Charlie Gordon (Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes) – This character just breaks my heart. A mentally disabled man that is given a cure and becomes a genius. But when it begins to slip away it’s heartbreaking to watch him decline.
7. Charlie Davidson (First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones) – Not only is she a detective … but the Grim Reaper. Yeah, who would have thought that the Grim Reaper could be one hell of a heroine. But there you have it!
8. Kristin Bjorson (Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey) – Another kick-ass heroine that you can’t help but loving. Kidnapped from Earth and transported to another planet, she steps up to help lead a ragtag band of victims to create a new settlement. Of course she finds the alien of her dreams in Zainal.
9. Eliza Flyte (The Horsemaster’s Daughter by Susan Wiggs) – Fiercely independent, she lives alone on an island. When a plantation owner brings a wounded horse to her to heal, it seems more than one heart mends.
10. Brenimyn (Healer’s Garden by Nina Pierce) – Oh come on, you’ve gotta give me one! LOL! Bren is the hero from the first novel that I published. I think he’s so memorable because I rolled all my favorite heroes into this one hunky guy.
So there are a few of mine. What about you? What characters can you just not get out of your head … or heart?
What a wonderful weekend for a blog hop. I had so much fun! It’s so nice to have so many people visiting. And without further stalling, here’s the list of winners from this blog and the hop in general:
Blog Hop Winner of a $75 Gift Card
Winner of a $25 Gift Card
Winner of for my blog hop prize
of SHADOWS OF FIRE and a $10 Amazon Gift Card
The comment winner from this blog
of a print copy of HEALER’S GARDEN
and a $15 Amazon Gift Card
from Salem, Oregon
Welcome! I’m so happy you’ve found your way here. If it was just by chance … well you’ve joined me on the right day because it’s Just Romance Me Earth Day Blog Hop weekend with all kinds of wonderful authors to check out and plenty of prizes to be won. (If you’re not on the “bus” just click HERE to start at the beginning.) One lucky hop participant will also be chosen at random to win a $75 gift card and a second will win a $25 gift card.
I love Earth Day. My first true experience celebrating happened on the mall in Washington. Mr. Nina and I were there by chance with our children (who were really young … so that’ll tell you how many years ago that was … I have grandchildren now!) and we got to take part in all kinds of activities. Now, I like to think earth day is every day!
So here are a few tips on protecting Mother Earth:
1. Think Green
Sometimes being eco-friendly is just thinking about something before you do it. Like refilling a mug at your local Starbucks instead of using a Styrofoam cup or packing your lunch in plastic washable containers rather than ziploc bags. I mean really … would you not want to enjoy a walk through a beautiful green field with your honey?
2. Conserve Water
Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load. And of course you can take smarter showers by using low flow shower-heads. Better yet … bathe with a friend.
3. Fuel Efficient Automobiles
A car that gets 20 miles to the gallon emits 50 tons of carbon dioxide over it’s life time. Double the gas mileage and cut down the amount of air pollution. Cutting your mileage by combining errands helps cut back on the consumption of fossil fuel and for more conservation … wrap your arms around someone and share a ride!
4. Save the Trees!
Use rags instead of paper towels for cleaning. Don’t print out every memo or email at work. When possible print on both sides of paper. (I actually save junk mail and print on the back of that.) Be sure to recycle used paper. And to save more trees of course you should buy E-BOOKS! All the benefits of a print book without any of the waste of paper! Sometimes being a tree-hugger can be a sensual experience!
So there you have it, my tips for earth day! Hope you enjoyed the photo illustrations. I know some people are visual learners. (Sorry, I can’t help you tactile learners! *vbg*) Let me know which suggestion you liked best or what little thing you do to help the environment that I didn’t mention … or just mention one of my ebooks you’ve enjoyed …
**** GIVE AWAY ****
Anyone commenting on this post between now and MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2013 before noon EDT, will be eligible for a print copy of HEALER’S GARDEN and a $15 Amazon gift card. (Shipping to US residents only. An international winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card only.)
I’m hanging out my “Caution: Promo Ahead” sign today. LOL!
Every author knows that we have one line, one paragraph and if we’re lucky one page to grab the reader. I can spend days tweaking and reworking the beginning of my stories. So I thought today I’d share with you the first lines of my books (with the names removed). When you look at them individually what do you think? Does the line make you want to keep reading or not so much?
So here they are in no particular order. Can you figure out which book they’re from? (And I included a line from a book that isn’t currently available at this time.):
1.) She slammed the spade into the soil. Her booted foot thumped down on its metal edge, driving it deeper and transferring her frustration to the wounded earth.
~ Deceive Her With Desire
2.) Her life was over. The evidence weighed heavy in her hands. In the time it had taken to do the retinal scan, her future had been stolen from her.
~ Healer’s Garden
3.) Not this time, buddy. Blue eyes stared right through her as the hands around her throat tightened their hold. She refused to let fear cloud her instincts.
~ Mating Bonds
4.) She wasn’t expecting a trip down memory lane when she sauntered into the dingy tavern, but the acrid stench and gruff hum of the Friday night crowd carried her back to one of the seedier establishments on Chicago’s south side nonetheless.
~ A Touch of Lilly … coming soon
5.) She had definitely made the wrong decision. Less than twenty-four hours ago she was sure this weekend was just what she needed.
~ Invitation to Ecstasy
6.) “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust… How could this have happened to someone so young? ~ Blind Her With Bliss
7.) It wasn’t much of a noise, just an inconsequential thump in the night that was enough to rouse him from his dreamless slumber. Still cradled in the gentle arms of sleep, his blood thick with sleeping medication, he wasn’t sure if he’d simply
imagined the sound. ~ Shadows of Fire
8.) He splashed three more fingers of thirty-year-old scotch into the crystal tumbler sitting on the mahogany desk, not bothering to add ice. He didn’t need some watered-down version of liquid courage.
~ Divine Deception
9.) She sauntered into the Whip and Bull Tavern, wanting only two things—a cold beer and a hot body. ~ Bonded Souls
10.) Jesus. Even though he wasn’t particularly religious he prayed for Divine intervention. Not that he wanted any lightning strikes or halos of light illuminating the shadowed corner of the club where he’d hidden himself, but a little more help in the patience department would certainly go a long way at the moment. ~ Maid for Master
11.) She raced through the shadows, her claws digging deep in the damp forest floor. Lush ferns of summer slapped at her muzzle but didn’t slow her speed.
~ Bonded by Need
What do you think? Do you have a favorite? Do you think any of them missed the mark?
And my latest book news? Well, I’m happy to announce the first two books in the Dangerous Affairs, sexy romantic suspense series, BLIND HER WITH BLISS and DECEIVE HER WITH DESIRE are now available in audio format. What a kick-in-the-pants to hear someone else reading my stories! I hope you’ll check them out:
I know. I know. I’ve never — in the seven years since starting this blog — been this inconsistent posting. But really, every time I think I’m getting my feet on the ground, life knocks them right out from under me and straight on my @$$ !
Almost three years ago, Mr. Nina lost his job at a hospital in northern Maine where he’d worked for over 20 years. No problem. I had really been wanting to move for a very long time. I was tired of living in the willy-wags in the middle of nowhere, where the most excitement came from my weekly trip to Wally-world for grocery shopping and social time (because everyone was shopping)!
Mr. Nina found a job right away in Rhode Island, but it took 6 months for us to sell our house. In the spring of 2011 we packed all our worldly possessions, put them in storage and the three cats and I joined him in a furnished apartment. Life was good and exciting and the two of us were starting on a new adventure. We worked diligently to buy a house in our new state, but despite our best efforts, and supposedly a “buyer’s” market, we couldn’t put in a winning bid on any house! (And we tried with FIVE houses … including a short sale that got derailed … went into foreclosure … and we lost a SECOND time). Weird. Very weird.
Turns out it was a blessing. Mr. Nina, who was working nearly 70 hours a week for a year and a half, gets let go from his job because someone screwed up the hospital contract and his bosses weren’t taking the blame. Ooookaayyy … we could manage, we had savings, our stuff was in storage and we had a great place to live. Mr. Nina puts himself out there — again and … *cue crickets chirping*.
Ten months. (May I just add an aside right here … the healthcare system is REALLY hurting in this economy.) Ten months of interviews that never turned into anything. Ten months of unemployment and hardship.
But then, the weekend of our daughter’s wedding, he’s offered a job in Vermont. Not where I thought I’d live, but hey, I’m game. We move, lock, stock and barrel, get our worldly possessions out of storage and stacked in the basement of a rental home and begin making a life for ourselves in another new state.
Our plans included building a handicapped house for me!
Then the unthinkable happened again … Mr. Nina lost his job. (Thankfully before we signed the closing papers on the house, but heartbreaking nonetheless.) We are living in this weird alternate reality with nothing coming together.
With all the turmoil I just can’t wrap my head around life right now. I know many writers find solace in losing themselves in stories, but that just isn’t how my muse works. So writing and blogging have taken a backseat. I’ve got plenty of stories in my head … and a couple of series readers have been asking about. But at the moment, I can’t seem to focus enough to pull it all together.
There are no words, I know. Even our family is stunned beyond belief. I know there’s another window opening somewhere and we’ll find it, step through and manage to land on our feet. I’m just hoping it happens sooner, rather than later this time. Cuz I’m really looking forward to getting settled and reorganized. Prayers. White light. Good thoughts. All of them are appreciated.
I just wanted you all to know I didn’t fall off the edge of the earth, I’m just currently hanging on by my nails and can’t type to blog or write stories at the moment.
What is it about that bad boy that attracts women? Oh, you know who I’m talking about… the man that swaggers into Friday night happy hour while you’re having an end of the week margarita with the BFFs. The leather jacket sits just right across those wide shoulders skimming along hips clad in faded jeans. And the two-day scruff doesn’t look unkempt, it just accents the dimple in his chin. He tips his chin at several tables as he moves through the bar and lands on a stool vacated by one of his equally naughty sidekicks. Oh, he is such bad news. You know it, yet you, and every other woman in the bar, is staring at this man who will no doubt break your heart.
What is it about the female psych that pulls us toward these men like bees to a pretty flower? My theory … mothering … rescuing … nurturing. I know, when put that way it’s kind of ick. We should want a man who will be our partner and share our lives and when we need it–support and protect us. But nooooo … that is not who we gravitate toward. The man who’s wounded and a little risky pulls at our internal need to support and “fix”. Though he appears confident, the reality of the bad boy is usually far from that. His tough exterior often is a rouse to hide his insecurities. And if it’s not … then he’s just too cocky and full of himself to think he needs a committed relationship. Which means he’s usually stringing a couple of us along and leading us to believe we’re the one and only. And even if we do find out about his indescretions we let them go believing he’s learned his lesson and won’t stray again. Yeah, right.
We know the bad boy is using us, but we don’t want to let go. Woman like to trick themselves into believing they will be the one who will tame his wild streak and this bad boy will find true love and happiness with us … if we only keep trying. In the end, his usually immature, narcissistic ways open our eyes and we move on.
Why mention this? Well it’s the stuff of romance novels of course. The only difference is that the “bad boy” hero is really no as bad as we initially believe, but just hiding a secret or hurtful past and the heroine actually does manage to knock down the walls to his heart and tame that bad boy. But in reality when I’m writing a bad boy, it’s an image and not the true man. Take my romantic suspense novel BLIND HER WITH BLISS, Damon Corey is a shock jock. Only his best friends know his one-night-stand personna isn’t really him. His true passion is the piano, but he shares this with no one until he meets Julie Tilling. Julie strips away the pretense and discovers Damon’s gentle and compassionate side (but of course that naughty boy comes out in the bedroom). *sigh* And isn’t that really what woman want
(Bear with me as I throw in a little promo here: I just released the THREE book sexy romantic suspense “Dangerous Affairs” series, which includes Damon and Julie’s story.)
I’d love to hear your opinions. What do you think? Do we really like the bad boy or is it just a nice fantasy? You know me, I’m curious about stuff like that!
I’d like to share with you something that came from one of those foolish emails that gets forwarded so many times you’re not sure where it began. So I’m afraid I can’t give any particular man credit for this. But as a public service announcement I thought I’d share with women what some silly men actually believe to be true. Now here are 13 “rules” from the MAN BOOK (and since all of them–in a man’s opinion–are all equally important they are all numbered 1). Please ladies be gentle with the comments. There are men who read this blog.
1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don’t hear us complaining about you leaving it down.
2. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one:
Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work!
Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!
3. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.
4. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That’s what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.
5. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.
6. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.
7. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.
8. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine… Really.
9. Don’t ask us what we’re thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball or motor sports.
10. If you ask a question you don’t want an answer to, Expect an answer you don’t want to hear.
11. Crying is blackmail.
12. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after 7 Days.
13. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.