Posts tagged ‘romance novel’

Can Love Really Survive All Things?

After having spent her entire lifetime pining away for all things Russian, Kate Barnes finally gets the chance to visit the storied land of her dreams. While on vacation in Moscow, Kate runs into the wealthy, distinguished Viktor Cherkasov – and much to the surprise of both of them, they soon fall deeply in love; however, with only ten days before Kate returns home – and Viktor’s son, Alexei, determined to keep them apart – can the two fated lovers overcome the obstacles threatening to sever their burgeoning bond…?

Available now in paperback and e-book at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

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A Loss for Words

I have been staring at the computer screen for nearly an hour trying to find the words to say.  Blogging used to be easy.  A thought came to me, I wrote it down, hit the Publish button and it was done.

Lately, however, I find my mind wandering.  Not the kind of wandering that one needs to panic and see a doctor about; just the every day lack of concentration.  I stare out the window and think about all the things I could be writing about, yet when it comes to writing them, the thoughts are all gone.  Sometimes they come back – usually in the middle of the night when I’m too tired to get up and go to the computer.  Sometimes it’s gone forever (this usually happens with the really good ideas).

My husband tells me that it’s a sign to slow down and enjoy life more.  Maybe he’s right.  I worked on my latest novel – Before the Applause – every spare moment I had, all the while working an average of fifty hours a week. 

So I ask you, gentle readers, how do you cope with your writer’s block?

My Idea of Perfect Weather

I have always enjoyed the late spring into early summer time best. The trees and flowers are in full bloom, and the air is warm and sweet.

A lot of times, I use the seasons to mirror the mood of the characters in my books. If everything is bright and sunny in the plot, then so is the weather. When things are not going well for the main characters,  it is raining or snowing. I find this adds a little something extra to give the story depth. After all, who could be in a bad mood when the sun is shining and the air is filled with the scent of flowers! You can see this in action in my new novel Before the Applause, available now at Amazon and Barnes&Noble online.

I am not the only writer to use this ploy. Mary Shelley got the idea for her classic Frankenstein story from the unusually bad weather. I’m not sure that I could ever go so far as to write a horror story like that, but I will definitely keep using the weather as a (pardon the pun) barometer for my characters’ moods in the future.

Do you have a favorite season? Inquiring minds want to know!

Romanticism versus Romance Novels

Interestingly enough, the modern romance novel is not Romantic in the proper sense of the word.

Much like the word Liberal, the word Romance has decayed from its original meaning to encompass something virtually anathemic to its originators.

The Romantic movement is the idealization of emotion, desire, and freedom from constraint.  It places an extraordinary value on the world we live in, and most importantly our reactions to that world.  This is embodied in a love of nature, a love of passion, a love of love.  On the surface, this could really seem to indicate a commonality.  After all, aren’t romance novels about love?

The problem is, romance novels aren’t at all about freedom from constraint, but a surrender to it.  The most important literary figure of the romantic movement is the Byronic Hero.  The Byronic Hero is a flawed, chaotic being, a sort of fatal force that compels people toward the reckless, the freeing.  By his very definition the Byronic Hero is also doomed, unable to change or redeem himself from his most fundamental flaws.  This is what makes him Romantic, the ability to be himself despite all surrounding impulse, good or bad.  There can be no happily ever after for the Byronic Hero, and yet that’s what the modern romance novel demands of him.

The modern romance is about taming the wild heart.  Pick up any romance book with some sort of warrior on the cover, and see how soon it asks ‘can she tame him’ or something of like mind.  Next, go to any publisher of romantic books, and see how long you can go until they insist on a HEA (happily ever after) or at the very least a HFN (happy for now).

Of course language changes over time, and I don’t begrudge it.  But all the same, there is a value in remembering where our words have come from.  So next time you consider picking up a romance novel, perhaps consider also finding a good Romantic one.

Romance for the Real World?

What’s wrong with wanting to write a real romance story? 

I have been writing them since I was in the fifth grade (the usual tween story about first love back then, of course).  Nowadays, I write the sort of romance story where a person can really see herself as the heroine. I call it “Romance for the Real World”.

I can hear my publisher groan every time I send in a manuscript. They dutifully read it and then remind me that if I want to be famous I should write what is popular right now. Sorry, I tell them, I don’t write like that. Eventually, after much haggling, they begrudgingly agree to sign a contract.

Now, I have nothing against paranormal, erotica, historical, or any other genre. I read and enjoy them all! I just believe that there are readers who look for more realism in the story. 

Like my new novel, Before the Applause. It is a prequel to my first novel, Macy, telling the story of a nine-year-old girl who has been on the receiving end of her father’s temper and abuse too many times. Young Johnny McElroo, who becomes her guardian, takes her in after she escapes from her father’s clutches. Together, they embark on an unforgettable journey to new beginnings where they find their wishes all come true.

It takes just as much if not more to write a romance novel that touches on real life, more than a purely fictional novel. I found it very difficult to write some of the early scenes (my keyboard has tearstains to prove it).  But, if the women who write this brand of story face criticism for not writing a more popular romance novel, we will accept that criticism and keep on writing it as long as people keep reading it.

From Diary to Publication

You can throw some things away especially if they get old and smelly; but all those journals and diaries you kept as a kid just might turn out to be gold.

Come on, I’m sure there are a few people out there who still have a locked diary containing an entry about that first kiss.Perhaps there is a corsage with a special memory pressed between the pages. Even some of you guys out there keep a journal of your daily events. As for me, I started keeping a diary way back in third grade. And yes, I still have it too.

Growing up, my mom could not understand the time I spent writing in the marble notebook that I kept hidden under my pillow. If I had a dime for every time she said, “Why are you wasting your time …” I’d be rich. Anyway, I continued to write. I would write poetry, short stories, paste pictures, or quote other people’s works that I found inspiring. I’d even write down the lyrics of songs that moved me in some way. I also enjoyed writing love stories. In high school, my friends would ask me to write a little romantic tale of them with their latest squeeze. Funny, it got to the point where even guys were coming up to me and asking me to write down their exploits. (Maybe that’s how I learned to write erotica?)

 In 1989, my darling hubby (boyfriend at the time) happened upon me writing one day while we were vacationing in Italy. As he read my interpretation of the past few days, including our steamy midnight activities, I expected him to start laughing at any moment. After all, he is not the mushy, romantic type of man. But he didn’t laugh. In fact, he thought it was rather good. “Not Jane Austen, but it’s a page turner,” I think were his exact words.

Inspired by this review, I began writing more and more short stories. As each new idea popped into my head, I jotted the thought onto paper. There were times, over the next ten years, when I had four or five stories in various stages of completion. I would write them in longhand on the train on the way to work, on planes when my work took me far from home. Eventually, they were painstakingly transcribed onto my computer.

Then, in 2005, I was on disability for an extended period. I spent a lot of time reading my stories, adding to them, reworking some of the plots. As I worked on one in particular, the story of a character who had been near and dear to my heart for many years, I began to wonder if it could be published. Having a book published had always been a dream of mine, but none of my stories had ever been complete enough. Perhaps it was time to complete one.

By 2006, I had the 145,283-word manuscript for the story about my favorite character, Macy. At the end of writing this slightly paranormal romantic novel, I knew that some of the secondary characters deserved to have their own stories; thus the birth of a miniseries. iUniverse Publishing offered me a contract in 2007 and Macy was released later that year. Before the Applause is scheduled for release in the fall of 2010, and If I Should Love Again in 2012.

My advice to anyone who thinks they might want to write a book … never throw a diary or a journal away; you never know where it might take you.

Where Do You Get Your Characters From?

 Someone asked me yesterday, in line at the grocery store of all places, where do you come up with the characters for your books?

“Here”, I replied, with a smile. “There. Everywhere.”

I’ve based characters I’ve met at my local mall (now that’s a goldmine!), neighbors, friends, celebrities, even family members. Sometimes a character can have traits–both physical and emotional–in several people who I know. And sometimes a character might come straight from my imagination, like Macy Sinclair in my latest novel, Before the Applause, which is due out this fall.

As writers, where do you come up with your characters? And, readers, do you like it when an author fully describes and fleshes out a character for you in a story or do you prefer that the author leave some of the details to your imagination?

Inquiring minds want to know!

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