Sunday, October 27, 2013


It's that time of year in Northern Ohio--sweaters come out of the drawers, extra blankets go on the beds, thermal undies get unpacked. Winter's in the air (and on the ground, if you live east of Cleveland. Surprise!)

Frankly, I like to layer on clothing. A thermal undershirt, a sweater, a jacket. At various times during the day, I'll strip off one or two layers, but keep them at the ready when I need to throw them back on again. Kind of reminds me of the way I write...

Every author I know uses a different process for writing. I just saw a video chat with Julia Quinn where she revealed she writes in circles. She's constantly going back to what she wrote the day before and fixing it before she continues on with her story. One of my critique partners writes various scenes when they come to her, and holds them in a separate folder until they fit into the story line. Me? I write in layers. I begin with a flash first draft, usually devoid of any sensory imagery and details. My main concern is to just get the story line down, to make sure it starts in the right place and that there's enough conflict and depth for a complete story. Once that's done, and I'm about 15,000 words below my goal, I go back to the beginning and start again. I have my sensory checklist and my overused word list and I go scene by scene through the document, checking things off, adding things in--putting an additional layer onto the story.

When the boring checklist portion is over, I'll go back over it again, starting at the beginning and just read it. Things jump out at me that are unexplained, or awkward, and I fix them. I also add more detail to the scene and try to paint the picture that's in my head with words on the paper--another layer.

By my third or fourth pass through my book, it's pretty well fleshed out. Layers of warmth have been added to the skeleton I started with, and the word count is where it should be. If I've over-embellished some of the story, I can remove that section, or if it needs more, I'll add details. While creating the skeleton is the fun part, adding layers creates the depth and conflict that any good romance needs.

So, curl up by a roaring fire when it gets cold outside. Throw a cozy afghan over you, maybe invite the dog into your lap and prepare to be warmed, inside and out, with a good book.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Train That Is Writing

Every week, I have to call on accounts in a nearby town in my position with the greeting card company I work for. This little town has two major railroad lines running through it, and as many as 70 to 100 trains a day pass through it, bottling up traffic. The town is working right now on creating an underpass, so traffic can still move while the trains go rumbling by.

Probably since it's not an everyday annoyance with me, I love watching the trains whiz by from the

comfort of my car. I try to imagine how far the train extends. Is it a mile long? Ten miles? I am curious about the individual cars and what's contained in them. Are they carrying chemicals? Auto parts? Food? Coal? How long does it take to hook the cars together on a long train like the one I'm looking at and where does it get done? How complex is it to find and line up just the right ones and plan their route?

Which leads me to where I'm at today. I've just finished my flash first draft of my new contemporary romance, and am assured that it has a beginning, middle and an end. An engine, the cars in between that contain the story, and a caboose. Now comes the tedious part, where I go through it scene by scene, loading it up with detail, adding in more dialogue, creating a picture of where the h/h are with my words. I check to make certain there is an adequate use of the senses and that the scene logically follows the one before it and ties in nicely with the one after it. Kind of like hooking together the various rail cars on a train.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Home Improvements

Ever since I’ve let the world know that I’m a writer of romance, I’ve been asked the same question repeatedly—How can someone who’s never been married be able to write romance?

I’m surprised by the question every time I hear it. Do people think I have lived in an emotional vacuum all these years? I have traveled all over the United States, and dated men that I would never have met if I’d married my high school sweetheart. A lot of these men have already shown up in my writing. Joseph, the hero in The Reluctant Debutante, is half American Indian. I lived in Arizona for over a year, and had contact with many an Indian there. Have you noticed all the English men in my books are either cads or buffoons? Coincidence? I think not. I’ve always been a sucker for a man with an accent. My motorcycle-riding guy from high school shows up in my latest contemporary, due out early next year. The pig from Vermont who broke Emily’s heart in my debut contemporary, Blame It On The Brontes? His name was…well, never mind. I’ve yet to figure out how to use my Hawaiian surfer, but sooner or later, he’ll find his way into the pages of one of my books.

None of these life experiences would have been possible if I’d married right out of high school and stayed in Ohio all these years. But, occasionally over the years, I’ve asked myself the question why I never could commit to just one guy. I could never figure out the answer.

Until yesterday. My gas oven quit working on me, and with Thanksgiving around the corner, I had to get it fixed. Turkeys don’t cook well on top of the stove, and I’m not about to burn the house down while trying one of those turkey fryer contraptions. The repairman came out, laid down on my kitchen floor and whacked my oven’s inner workings with a pair of pliers. The gas flame kicked on, finally. I jokingly asked him if I had to give it a whack every time I wanted to cook something. He found my humor less than funny, and replied, with a straight face I might add: “Your igniter is not working.”

I nearly choked. You don’t tell a romance writer her igniter isn’t working!

But then I realized that was the answer I’ve been searching for over the years. I can begin a relationship with a hot, scorching flame. But sooner or later, it levels off, and then shuts down for a few minutes. When it’s time to get hot again, the igniter is supposed to kickstart itself and once more, the flame burns brightly. But, if your igniter is broken, the flame doesn’t come back on, and the oven eventually gets stone cold.

Who would have guessed that getting a simple home improvement done would result in the answer to one of my world’s most puzzling questions?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why Elizabeth Meyette Finds Humor Very Sexy

   I'm so pleased to have as my guest today another Crimson historical author, Elizabeth Meyette, whose work I admire very much. Her stories are set in Colonial America, and are laced with action and humor. I asked her to write about what makes her work so special. Here's what she had to say:

   There are two motifs that meander through my historical romance Love’s Destiny: humor and brandy. Often they intertwine like ribbons in a colonial petticoat, and always they involve Emily and Jonathon. With so many barriers to their relationship, from having opposing sympathies as the colonies begin to revolt against England to the schemes of a scorned lover, humor facilitates their blossoming romance. And as their relationship develops, humor with a dollop of brandy sometimes speeds the momentum.
   During their first encounter, Jonathon teases Emily seeing through her ruse to convince him that she is mature enough to be on her own. In trying to do so, she experiences her first brandy.

   Jonathon continued to look at her with that amused expression. He took another drink of his brandy and, putting down his empty glass, he eyed hers and looked at her inquiringly. Emily lifted her glass to her lips and sipped again. It seared her throat and brought tears to her eyes once more. She could not speak for a moment, and when she finally took a breath, the fire returned…
   “Well, as you can see, Captain, Father was mistaken. I am quite capable of looking after Andrew and myself.”
   “Yes, I can see that. In fact, you are quite a lovely young woman.” Jonathon leaned back against the settee, casually resting one arm behind Emily. He saw through her charade and could not help teasing her for she was so serious.”
Later in the book, they take shelter during a thunderstorm after Emily is injured. Secluded in a cozy cabin, the attraction between them is palpable. When she consumes brandy again, this time for medicinal purposes, Emily’s defenses come down, and the ensuing encounter with Jonathon changes their lives.
   “Time for your medicine, Miss Wentworth,” Jonathon said bringing over the flask and gently sitting down beside her. Emily took a couple of sips and coughed, which hurt her head.
   “I do not know which is worse, the injury or the cure.” She took a couple more sips and handed him the flask. “You could have covered me up, Jonathon.”
   “Why? I was enjoying the view,” he grinned. “You are lovely, Em. Enticing.”
   “And you are a rogue…”

   As playful as Jonathon can be, Emily’s wry humor matches his when she presents him with a particularly meaningful Christmas gift.
   “Now I have something for you.” Going to the tree she knelt and found a small package hidden beneath some others. She carried it over and handed it to him. Unwrapping it, Jonathon held up a gold brandy flask. He burst out laughing and clasped her to him. The others looked over at the two inquisitively.
   “It would need a great deal of explanation,” Jonathon said simply.
   This joke forms an intimate bond that is exclusively theirs.
   The secret is that Jonathon teases, but never taunts. His humor is gentle, engaging and tender often serving as foreplay in their romantic encounters. Using shared secrets creates a private world between lovers, and when humor is involved, it can be very sexy.
   Have you ever read a book or seen a movie in which the humor enhances the romance in a relationship?

Here's more about Elizabeth's works:

Love’s Destiny The simmering rebellion in the American colonies is the backdrop for this smoldering romance.  When Jonathon Brentwood, captain of the Destiny and committed patriot, comes into the life of Emily Wentworth, a young English woman, divided loyalties and desire to honor a father’s dying wish cannot hold their passion at bay. But their pasts and the future of a young country stand in the way of their destiny.

Love’s Spirit As the Revolutionary War breaks out the story of  Jonathon and Emily continues. Both face danger: Jonathon from the British who want to hang him for treason, and Emily from the woman whose love for Jonathon has driven her mad. While the impending birth of their baby is cause for celebration, threats from the British and from evil lurking at Brentwood Manor present obstacles to their love.

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