Sunday, August 1, 2021

Where Are the Lines?

 I'm reading a book right now, called Lady Wallflower, by Scarlett Scott, a new to me author. It's a Regency romance, which our author community has made a most romantic period of time, unless you get too much into the weeds about it. Most Regencies are full of clever dialogue as our hero and heroine get to know each other. Sometimes things get really steamy, bordering on erotica. But what is striking me as unusual with this book is how the author creates one of the most erotic scenes I've ever read without having the hero and heroine even touch one another. 

It was one of the hottest, most erotic scenes I'd read in a long time and I waited breathlessly for the guy to finally break his iron control and touch the woman. When he did, it was just one finger, lightly touching her collarbone. I melted in my seat along with the heroine. I don't know if it was technically erotica, but it was certainly swoon-worthy. Nicely done, Scarlett!

As with so much in the publishing world these days, I think the lines are blurring. And, since I like to be surprised when I read new-to-me authors, I find it refreshing to not know what to expect all the time. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Inspiration Time

Every author, at one time or another, gets asked the question of where the ideas for their stories come from. And most authors have a simple, generic answer that family, current events, or television shows are the inspiration. For me, most of my ideas come while I'm floating mindlessly in my health club's pool. I prop some floating devices under my arms and rotate my hips while I begin to think of my next book. 

Right now, I'm writing Christmas novellas for my ghostwriter. If I have to think of Christmas in July, I want to be lying in a bed of 85 degree salt water, suspended weightlessly while my thoughts drift.

Today, there was a gentleman in the pool near me, helping his two young daughters with their swimming. He was covered from head to toe with tattoos, which normally you'd think would belong on a surly, motorcycle-riding gunslinger of a guy, but the way he interacted with his girls was very sweet. He was young, good-looking, clean-shaven, and a perfect hero. Just covered in artwork. As I watched him playing with his daughters, and he watched to make sure they didn't get in my way, I thought about a hard-boiled hero with a heart of gold. One who thought Christmas was a useless holiday until he met a woman who could stand up to him and change his mind. 

Were tats even a thing in 1870? 

I need to do my research before I begin the story, but at least it's a grain of an idea. Or should I say a drop of an idea, since we were in the water?

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Knee Deep in a Snow Drift

We're halfway through summer now, and I must say, it's been one of the most weird seasons yet. 

I should be busy promoting my beachey book, Blame It On The Brontes,

which is one of my all-time faves, but instead, I'm trying to write two novellas about Christmas. 

Quite frankly, I'd rather be at the beach instead of knee deep in a snow drift. 

But speaking of drifting, my eyes keep wandering to the porch swing and away from my computer screen. I even volunteered to help a friend clean out her shed to avoid working on my story. I'm finding momentum hard to come by. 

What I need are some Christmasy ideas. Toss me a lifeline, will you? Any and all ideas will be gratefully accepted. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Coming Full Circle

 A few years ago, I left Ohio for the warmer climes. Problem was, while I'd sold my house up north, I hadn't yet found a place in the South. So, for a few months, I became a crasher. Mary and I moved in with my best friend and her husband, in Virginia. They graciously let us camp out with them for a couple months, and my friend and I made more than a few trips to North Carolina, searching for the right place. 

Now it's my friend's turn. It's time for them to live on one floor instead of constantly going up and down stairs. Fortunately, they've decided North Carolina is the place to be. But since their previous trips here have been few and far between, they need time to determine which part of the state is best suited to their needs. Will it be the mountains in the west or a beach community on the east? A big metropolitan city like Raleigh or something smaller and quaint? Hopefully, I'll be able to return the favor and let them camp out here while they're exploring. 

The first step in the process is to get their home in a sellable condition. Having bought and sold more than one house, I'm going to help in that regard. The hunt begins in earnest this weekend. 

And maybe I can get a story line out of it. 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Christmas In July

 My career as a writer has taken many twists and turns since I decided I wanted to fulfill a lifelong ambition and write a novel. Several years ago, I added ghostwriting to my resume. 

The gentleman I'm currently working for has asked for series books. My first idea was to write a trilogy, but he wanted four books. Who am I to argue with this? I get paid for writing one more book. I just wrapped up the fourth book and presented my next idea for a four-book series about a gentlemen's poker club, for which I got the go-ahead and began working up the concept for the four books. I wrote the outline for the first book and the first chapter and then came to a screeching halt on the project. 

Why, you ask? 

Because it's July, and any stories with a Christmas theme need to be done and ready for publication by no later than September. My client and I had collaborated on two Christmas stories last year, and he wanted a repeat. So, even though it's 90 degrees outside, I turned up the A/C and put on my Christmas hat.

I need to come up with a couple good solid seasonal ideas and get them done by August. I promised him two, and possibly one additional. I need to get to work. 

Then, and only then, can I get back to my poker game. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

New To Me Authors

 Here's the way it's supposed to work: A book is offered up for free or 99 cents in the hopes the reader will love it so much they'll go back to Amazon and purchase other books by the author. This is supposed to work best in the cases where the author is brand new to the reader. Or so I've been told...

This particular marketing technique has been preached by publishing industry experts since the invention of e-books. On occasion, I've tried it myself with my own books, with limited success. But recently, I read the blurb for a free book that was just what I needed at the time–a raunchy, laugh-out-loud contemporary set in Vegas. The author was someone I didn't know but at the discounted price I thought, nothing ventured, etc. The book was everything it advertised itself to be, and I got a warm buzz from having read it. Not wishing to be done with raunchy contemporary comedies, I picked up another of the author's books that was offered up for free. Not as good as the first one, but still mildly entertaining. I went for broke on the third one, paying actual money for it. Maybe it wasn't as funny because I actually coughed up money for it? Whatever the reason, I was disappointed. 

Hoping against hope that I could find another book by this author that would rival the first, I scrolled through the list of other options by this person. Much to my surprise, Amazon told me I had purchased one of this author's books in 2019! I ran to my Kindle, and lo and behold, this was not a new-to-me author after all. I'm now reading the book I bought two years ago. Still not as good as Vegas. But then again, destination wedding books have never been my preferred choice. 

So, does the marketing strategy actually work? Well, I'm in the middle of the fourth book by this author, two of which I actually spent money on, and only one of which I'd read again. Unless the author can capture the magic she had in the first book I read, I won't spend any more money on her. If someone asks for my opinion on her, I'll give them my honest answer: Sometimes the magic only happens once. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Reentering Life

The effects of the pandemic are far-reaching, even if you've never come close to the actual illness itself. People have changed the way they work, the way they live, and all of it was unscripted. We figured it out as we went. 

My work as a writer helped me be a step ahead of the rest of the work force, since I was used to working from home, by myself, and communicating via computer and phone. But for a lot of Americans, that scenario became, overnight, the way business was done. Zoom meetings replaced actual face-to-face contact. People gradually began to lose social skills. 

Thankfully, a large percentage of America is now vaccinated, and the infection rate has slowed to a crawl. America is now reopening, a little at a time. I took advantage of this rebirth by doing something I hadn't been able to do in over a year. 

I went to the movies. 

I didn't quite know what to expect. It was a much anticipated movie and, even though it was a Friday matinee, I thought there would be a crowd of folks clamoring for a seat. But it seems Covid has made everyone cautious. Only about a third of the seats ended up being occupied, and we sat a respectable distance from one another. Covid has changed the way we interact with one another. 

As a romance writer, I can't help but wonder if this shift in the way we respond to each other will affect story lines in the next couple of years. Even without a mask, we're still guarded. Will it crop up in our creative endeavors as well? 

What do you think?