Friday, February 29, 2008
While driving to town I started thinking about today and leap years and I remembered another February, another leap year eight years ago, when I sold my first book. From there my mind took a leisurely detour through the intervening years and I was reminded of how much I've done in this eight years and how much is due to my romance writing. The travel for conferences, the detours I've taken on those trips, the research experiences, the people I've met, my personal growth and change that's empowered me to do things and make decisions I would not have done ten years ago.
And that is how I arrived at this alternate topic for my blog:
10 things I would not have done if I hadn't sold that first (and subsequent) books.
1. Seen New Orleans, New York, Reno and Atlanta on trips to RWA conferences, with stopovers in Toronto, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles. Nor would I have gotten to frock up and enjoy the conference parties with remarkable women such as these down-under authors.
2. Visited my sister-in-law and her family in Alberta, Canada, on one of those trips.
3. Driven a red convertible on the "wrong" side of the road in Nevada (we're from Australia, y'know)...and along the Vegas strip.
4. Biked across the Golden Gate Bridge (the skirt was a mistake, BTW.)
5. Slept under the most brilliant, magical night sky on an Outback camping safari.
6. Experienced the immense pride of seeing my books up on the big screen at the RWA Awards night.
7. Gone to the opera (holy cow, the opera!), to see La Boheme at the Sydney Opera House.
8. Thrown caution (and the budget) to the wind in hosting a fully catered 21st birthday party for son #1 (it was fabulous!)
9. Suggested that my husband throw caution (and budget) to the wind and buy himself a horse (she is fabulous!)
10. Met the most amazing women in fellow lovers of romance novels, and made the best, funniest, smartest, most empathetic friends a woman could have.
Bronwyn's next release TYCOON'S ONE-NIGHT REVENGE is available tomorrow as a print and ebook from eHarlequin and from other stores in April. This is a spin-off to Bronwyn's RITA-finalist The Ruthless Groom. If you enjoyed The Princes of the Outback then don't miss out on Susannah's story.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Where else can readers find such huge diversity in plot lines? From strong suspense plots to the occasional ghost or vampire, Blaze charts a huge amount of story terrain in six books a month. With a wide range of recurring miniseries like Forbidden Fantasies, the Wrong Bed, Extreme and Blush, the line makes it easy for fans to find the type of Blaze that most appeals to them. This summer, the series charts all new territory in a traditionally contemporary line when Blaze introduces its first historical—Hope Tarr’s Bound and Determined. I’m hoping readers are excited about seeing a Blaze style premise played out in a historical setting as I am.
Take for instance GETTING LUCKY, my March release. I wanted to write a story set in the Thousand Islands ever since I read a book about Boldt Castle. The setting is remote and romantic, the kind of backdrop you’d see in an old Gothic novel. Furthermore, I hoped to use some of those Gothic elements to enrich the story. But what would work in a Blaze?
Enter my blue blood sports agent who is losing his career and his assets at an alarming rate. He retreats to the family place where he grew up to meet with a psychic investigator in the hope she can remove whatever curse is hanging over his head. And before I knew it, spooky things were happening left and right while my couple discovered the unlucky hero definitely hadn’t lost his mojo in the bedroom. I had so much fun with this story. And it could only happen in a Blaze.
Here’s an excerpt I hope you’ll enjoy. And even if my March Blaze isn’t up your alley, I hope you’ll check out the rest of the month’s offering. I’ll bet you’ll find something fabulous…
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
At first, with a five-year-old, a ten-year-old and a fifteen-year-old, it was nearly impossible to write from the time school ended until the moment they finally fell asleep at night, so most of my writing happened in the wee-small hours of late night. Training them seemed more work than simply adjusting my own schedule to theirs, so I bided my time.
Later, as the boys grew and the contracts continued, and as I learned my deadline-binge-writing style was not a fluke, my husband and I began to plan ahead, turning down invitations during those last few weeks before the book was due and rearranging work and other commitments to open up some quality writing time. With each book, my wider circle of family and friends accepted the ‘I’m on deadline’ excuse with a bit less persuasion, and even some measure of enthusiasm. Even my mother-in-law began explaining my absences from family events with a knowing look and accepting tone. This was good!
I began training my children and husband to observe the little warning sign and the closed office door. Unless something (or someone!) was on fire or bleeding, Dad was the designated parent-in-charge. Meals were on-the-fly and could even involve two or three nights in a row of take-out. Meals by Mom were appreciated when they appeared on the table and not expected or demanded. This was going really well!
Now, one son is grown and married, another has just moved out into his own apartment and I have only one son left at home. My husband finds being the parent-in-charge much less a challenge with only one to chase after. . . or to take to the doctor’s when the inevitable illness happens as it always does when I’m on deadline.
So, if I’m dealing with only one child and one husband now, how can I tell if they’re really trained well or if it’s just a more manageable group? Let me tell you. . . .
One of the things that helps me write, or that I just need, during those last minute deadline binges is a bag of salty pretzels. Some authors need chocolate, some need caffeine. I need pretzels. My husband watches as I stockpile bags and knows that deadline writing is coming…. IT’S COMING!!
This past weekend as I returned from a day-job business trip with another one planned for this weekend and a novella due. . . on Monday. . . my husband demonstrated that all these years of training have been working. He presented me with three bags of pretzels and called them my novella-writing package! Yay!
Now, with my well-trained family in position for this week’s deadline writing binge, I can move assuredly towards finishing my novella. And, of course, that’s what I’m doing if my editor asks…
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Really, I don't mind. Not in the least. They say people are one or the other--a dog or a cat person. I guess for me, cats are it.
It's not that I don't like dogs. I do like them. After all, they're way smart and you can train them to bring you the paper and if you treat them well, they're likely to lavish you with slavish attention.
OTOH, the cat. Want attention? Wait for it. You'll get it when your cat is darn good and ready to bestow it. And as to training, well, provide a litter box and chances are your cat will use it. Cats actually do know the things they're not supposed to do. My cats know they are forbidden to perch on tables or kitchen counters. So they only do it when I'm not around. Sometimes they forget I'm in the house and one of them will get up on the kitchen table to gaze dreamily out the bow window into the backyard, tail twitching lazily at the sight of a squirrel or a bird. Should I happen to quietly sneak up on the culprit with my trusty spray bottle of water, well, you should see the look of shock and dismay on his face before I start yelling "No!" and chasing him around the house--priceless. Cats hate it when you mess with their dignity. And there's nothing so undignified as having to run away from a screaming human with a spray bottle.
I love how clean they are. My cats are constantly bathing. They bathe each other. Sometimes, they even forget I'm just a human and they try to bathe me. I love the rough scratch of their tongues and how velvety their fur is. I love the sound of their purring. I love the way they talk to me. Yes. Talk. Both of my cats are talkers. Ed's voice is pure--and sharply grating when he "captures" one of his small stuffed animals and carries it around the house, yowling. Tom's meow is rusty. Croaky, even. When he meows I want to grab him and hug him tight. If he'll let me.
After all, he is a cat. And a cat will inevitably do what a cat wants to do. I like that in a pet. I like that a lot.
So how 'bout you? A cat person? Or do you favor dogs? Or...?
Monday, February 25, 2008
It’s a lot of fun.
It also means I get begrudgingly complimentary reviews from major news agencies, ones that would never ordinarily review a romance, so they put it under “Fantasy” instead. It’s a bit of literary snobbery, but I’ll take it. (Bonus points in a Fantasy review: you almost never run across that charming print equivalent of a sneer, “bodice-ripper”.)
I’m not good with boundaries. I don’t necessarily like other people’s conventions. My parents figured out pretty quickly when I was a child that the surest way to finagle me into doing something was to tell me that I couldn’t do it. It’s not that I’m stubborn...okay, yes, I’m stubborn. It’s more that I don’t like unreasonable limitations. I was that annoying kid who kept asking “why?” when adults tried explaining rules to me, until they usually ended up red-cheeked and sputtering “Because! Because! Because!” and giving me candy to go away.
So I write fantasy...because. Because it’s mind candy for the adult in me. I love romance, I love happy endings, but most of all, I love creating textured, interesting people who aren’t really people at all, and placing them in impossible situations to see what they do to get out of them. I’m nearly always surprised by what happens, believe me. Those are the best kinds of stories, I think.
So if you’re a daydreamer like me, someone with a hidden edge of rebellion sharpening your secret heart, you’ll know just what I mean when I say that I hope you’ll dream on. Dragons are real, and so is true love.
It’s the best of every world. :-)
Saturday, February 23, 2008
First up was the Romantic Novelists Association awards lunch on Monday 4 February. The winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year was Freya North for Pillow talk and the winner for the Betty Neels Rose Bowl (aka the Romance Prize) was Kate Hardy and her book Breakfast at Giovanni's (to be published in April in the US as In Bed with Her Italian Boss as part of the Promotional Presents programme). I was out on a walk when Kate texted me, but my dh says that I burst into tears. It is a lovely book with a lot of heart and a worthy winner. Kate has done a marvellous post on her blog about the day...you can read it here.
Next up on the 7th was the one party I did go to -- the Mills & Boon Centenary Celebration. The party could have easily stepped straight from the pages of a Presents novel. The venue, the Wallace Collection, is the former main townhouse of the Marquis of Hertford and displays its suberb collection of 18th century objects d'art...in other words, the sort of setting for a Regency novel.
The courtyard was bathed in pink, and as befits a birthday party, there were various stalls for cotton candy, ice cream and cupcakes with the M&B centenary logo. The bar boasted an array of different coloured drinks. Most of the authors has peach bellinis but I stuck to champagne. The room teemed with authors, agents, editors, public relations people, and journalists. At one point, they had all the authors on stage for a photocall. It was an impressive sight. Several authors were interviewed by the BBC for a proposed documentary. A tenor crooned while red roses were handed out to all the ladies. And UK television personality, Alan Titchmarsh gave a lovely welcome address.
There was a wonderful buzz about the party and all the guests left with a party bag.
The third party happened last Thursday om Manchester and was the culiminating event of the Manchester Library's year of Pure Passion. Penny Jordan has been tireless in her support of this, and gave a number of talks about romance. The party was held in the Neo Gothic Town Hall and by all accounts, it was a wonderful event with flowing champagne and glamourous dresses. Authors, editors. librarians and readers gathered to celebrate romantic fiction and find out the winner of the Pure Passion prize. Christina Jones won for her chick lit novel Love Potions. Annie Burrows has more on her website, including photos.
Because I know that people like to live vicariously, I have the little gold bookmark from my party bag, and a copy of the programme from Mills & Boon party to give away. The question I would like answered is in which year was Mills & Boon founded. Please email me with your answer with Totebags contest in the subject line. I will draw the winner on 1 March.
UPDATE: The first name out of the hat was Estella Kissell. I have sent a message, but I do need a postal address to send the bookmark and programme. Many thanks to all who entered.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Occasionally I get a letter from one of my dedicated readers who want to know — Can’t you make up your mind?
Well, it’s this way.
Before I was published I wrote both contemporary and historical.
The first book I wrote (not published, but wrote) was a historical, probably 200,000 words long (my current books are 80,000 words – honey, I was writing GONE WITH THE WIND) set in … um, never mind. Anyway, it featured volcanoes and an earthquake and a smallpox epidemic and a Spanish landowning hero tortured by the inequities of the Colonial system. I wrote on that thing for six years, but that book taught me how to plot, put words together, express emotion, illustrate character growth. It was a great learning experience, but I could never sell that book mostly because it was set in … um, never mind.
After finishing that tome, I wrote a contemporary series book (about the size of a Silhouette Desire.) That took me six months. I could never sell that one, either.
I wrote my second historical (set in Medieval England, by God!), sent it to an agent who said she could sell it, and immediately started a contemporary because by then I’d been writing for ten years, wracked up enough rejection letters to paper my office, and believed publication would happen about the time it snowed in hell.
Apparently Satan was wearing an overcoat because the agent sold CANDLE IN THE WINDOW in two weeks (on Friday February 2, 1990 at 3:30pm, not that I marked the calendar or anything). While I was waiting for the contracts to come through, I finished the contemporary and sold LADY IN BLACK to Kismet, a short-lived but very profitable mail order publishing company. There are still copies of LADY IN BLACK floating around, and while it’s dated (it features a dot-matrix printer) some things are eternal – like the sex in the shower. Very steamy.
Then for years I concentrated on historicals. Still I read historicals and contemporaries, and when paranormals became popular, I read them, and I always intended to write more contemporaries. When I got the idea for the Lost Texas Hearts Series (JUST THE WAY YOU ARE, ALMOST LIKE BEING IN LOVE and CLOSE TO YOU), I knew I had the perfect vehicle, and my contemporary career was off and running. My current contemporary series is called the Fortune Hunters, and THIGH HIGH (March 2008) is the third book in that series.
So I was published in historicals and contemporaries. You’d think that was enough — and what happens?
While I watched FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, one of my favorite movies of all time, I analyzed why the story worked for me. (Analyzing stories is one of the things I do — it drives my kids crazy when we’re watching a film and I announce, “That was foreshadowing.” But what was I put on this earth for except to annoy my kids?) I love Tevye's dedication to his traditions, and the story is riveting as, slowly, everything he believed in is overturned by change. Everything, that is, except what mattered the most -- his family and the bedrock of his faith.
At the same time, I was analyzing why vampire romances worked so well. I decided a vampire is the ultimate alpha hero. When he mates with a woman, he can either give her the best sex of her life — or kill her. But a vampire has constraints — daylight, crosses and garlic can harm them, and a skilled hunter can stake them.
I daydreamed about heroes who were invincible … and at that moment, something happened. It's a little vague in my mind, but I remember a blinding flash of light, the two ideas meshed, and I had the concept for a four-book paranormal series featuring a family who immigrates from Russia and who just happens to be fearless, invincible shapeshifters.
I had to write Darkness Chosen. I was born to write Darkness Chosen.
Can’t I make up my mind? God, I hope not. I love the unpredictable process of creation, of discovering new worlds inside my brain and stumbling on new stories to write. I love exploring all the aspects of romance, all the ways a man and a woman fall in love, the bold kisses, the shy kisses, love-making in the forest, love-making on the beach, love-making (gasp!) in bed. Romance is amazing in its variety, and it’s the variety that keeps me writing (and reading.)
What about you? How many years have you been reading romance? What kind of romance do you read? Do you read more than one kind of romance? The kind of books that sell in big numbers has changed; have you changed your romance reading habits along with the market?
Visit Christina's website for excerpts and book videos!
Christina's upcoming release is scheduled to hit shelves on March 4, 2008. THIGH HIGH is book three in her highly acclaimed Fortune Hunter series!
Thursday, February 21, 2008
For instance, when I wrote Charming Jo, nothing else worked for me but Toby Keith, and the louder the better.
Other times I’ve written to Martina McBride – who epitomizes the strength of a woman – or my new favourite, fellow Canadian George Canyon who does an amazing job on the classics I grew up on (that man can sing Waylon and Willie like nobody’s business!)
But this last year I’ve spent writing two books dealing with the devil’s offspring. THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER, due out April 1st, and the sequel, DANCING WITH THE DEVIL, due out in December. These are not dark books by any means, but I did need something to get me into the characters’ frames of mind, so who did I turn to?
Who could possibly sing about Hell in such a way that I could sing along without being distracted by the songs themselves (This, by the way is key to the whole thing. Music needs to be playing, and I need to be able to sing along, but in an unconscious kind of way).
Enter Meatloaf and his 1977 album Bat Out of Hell.
I know what you’re thinking. Meatloaf? Good Lord! I know, but 30 years later, this album still gets the job done. The songs are 8 minutes long for goodness sake, so there’s no distraction of the songs ending every three minutes, and the lead song is the title track. I have listened to that CD so many times I could probably sing it backwards in my sleep. Don’t worry, I won’t. I wouldn’t want to scare anyone.
The next book will be someone completely different. For all I know, I could end up writing my next book to the soundtrack of Barry Manilow’s Copacabana or Cher’s Greatest Hits. I just never know what it’ll be.
I can honestly say though, without a doubt, that AC/DC will never be the artist of choice for anything I write. Beethoven, maybe, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to step outside my comfort zone. What about you?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I discovered that three or four of us regularly watch an English TV show called Top Gear. It's about cars, more or less. English and European cars, mostly. We were chatting enthusiastically about favorite segments and half the group stared at us as if we'd suddenly morphed into aliens.
The conversation went like this:
"I'd never watch that show -- it's all about cars. I have no interest in cars."
"Me too. My husband and son never miss it so I use the time to catch up on housework."
Three women said, more or less simultaneously -- "We don't watch it for the cars." "Oh, so these three guys are really hot, right?"
"No, they're not hot at all."
"Huh? So why?"
We explained. A big part of the fascination of the program for women lies in the glimpse we get into guy-world. It's really all about boys and their toys and the way they're so competitive with each other - about the fastest, the most powerful, the best. They don't hold back, either.
And it occurred to me that a big part of the appeal for me of J.R. Ward's vampire world is the glimpse we get of the close community of guys and the way they interact. She's not the only author who does this well. Often a series is linked by a group of guys related in some way: by blood, or by experience. For instance in my new series the heroes are all guys who've been to war together, which makes for powerful bonds.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
If I want or have time for more, say on a long plane ride or a vacation on the beach, I'll read one of the amazing variety of single title books available either in the bookstore or via e-books. By the way, many of these so-called single title books have also been shortened. Whereas a good best seller used to be in the one-hundred thousand word category, now many of them don't even make it to ninety thousand words. Minimum word count used to be ninety, today it's eighty or even seventy. Thanks due in part, I'm sure, to authors like Dan Brown, James Patterson, and Steven King who are masters at quick and exciting reads.
At one time I imagined all this focus on brevity was due to the price of paper. But today I'm sure that isn't even a factor. Not with all the e-books out there. Now that I've changed my opinion about life in general, I know better. It's the pace of our lives. Time is our single most expensive commodity.
As an author, I've never had any trouble writing short. It makes me work at finding just the right pace--just the right word. It's harder, yes. But it also makes me a better writer. I'm enjoying finding new ways of putting a little mystery/adventure, a couple of points of view, and a bad guy or two in with my sexy little romances. Writing a fast read is exactly what I need in my my life right now.
As a reader, I'm thrilled that all the lines are going shorter. I have always wanted a good thriller, mystery, paranormal, erotica, or family romance (depending on my mood) that I could read in a couple of hours and then go on with my life.
How do you feel about the shorter books? If you're a writer, do you find shorter is harder -- or maybe impossible? If you're a reader, have you given up reading Harlequins because they've gotten shorter? Or are you fining yourself picking them up again after falling away exactly because they are now easier to finish in the time you have?
Leave me a comment and I'll pick one winner from all the comments left before Tuesday February 19th to win a new Presents (my choice) or one of my backlist (your choice)
Linda's newest (shorter) Silhouette Romantic Suspense series, The Safekeepers, begins in June with SAFE WITH A STRANGER. Don't forget to drop by Linda's newly designed website to find out more about her series, check out her new extras, and register to enter her ongoing contest to win books, chocolates, and gift certificates! http://www.LindaConrad.com
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Here's the classic chicken vs egg question when it comes to writers: Do neurotics become writers, or does writing make one neurotic?
My editor called me the other day to ask if I could get my current manuscript in 4 weeks early so she could fit it in the November 2008 schedule. Of course, being a new author, I respond with a resounding "Yes!" even though I'd been dragging my heels on this book, feeling as though it was wrong in every way possible and having no idea how to fix it. In fact, the only thing that was letting me sleep at night was the idea the book wasn't on the schedule yet and I could ask for an extension if I needed it.
So much for that plan.
But ironically, that ended up being the good part of the conversation. Because somewhere as we were nailing down exact dates, she pays me a wonderful compliment by stating I could get this book in at the last minute, because my last one came in so clean she wasn't concerned about revisions. Most authors would be standing on a cloud right about now. But me? Noooooooo. I reply, "Yeah, but the problem is I don't have the confidence in this book that I did with the last, so I should really get this in early so we've got time to revise."
Could someone please tell me, why, why, why, why, WHY??? was I posessed to tell my editor this? Especially since the moment I got off the phone, I realized I needed to get serious about the book, sat down, wrote a more solid outline, found an ending that turns what I've written so far into gold, and the words have been rolling off my fingers ever since?? In fact, now that I've looked it over, I'm thinking it could be my best Blaze yet.
My CPs response is that I'm a writer, therefore I'm neurotic, and not to worry, because my editor deals with neurotic writers every day and probably didn't even bat an eyelash. I'm wondering how I can go from feeling completely insecure about a book, then loving it the minute I confess to my editor that the whole thing sucks.
So let me ask this. What do you think came first, the writing or the neurotic? And if you are a neurotic writer, do you have any stories to tell that would make me feel I'm not the only one?
Lori Borrill's next Harlequin Blaze, "Putting It To The Test" is an April, 2008 release, and she promises it most definitely does not suck! Of course, she's neurotic, so you should probably buy the book and see for yourself.
Friday, February 15, 2008
I like Valentine's Day. After all, I am a romance writer. It's sweet and romantic, and everyone should have a Valentine to love.
My only issue is that all that sentiment becomes a requirement, an $80-for-a- dozen-roses mandate. And therein lies my problem with Valentine's Day.
Roses are nice, but to me, $80 for roses isn't worth it. And when I thought about it, I finally figured out why: Anyone can buy roses. But not everyone knows what I really want.
So here's my top five list of the perfect romantic gifts...for me:
Every woman out there is nodding her head right now. Take note, boys.
Pros: One to two hours being pampered in peace and quiet, lasts for a week and I can take my gift anywhere.
Cons: No wine involved.
2. A clean house.
A collective sigh just went up. Most men do not understand the power of a clean house.
Pros: It's free and anyone can do it.
Cons: My hygiene standards have to be lowered. And there's no wine.
This one is just too easy, I know.
Pros: Lasts a long time, available anywhere, and can be easily hid in my office drawer.
Cons: Calories, which I say I don't want but for chocolate, I'll do it. And no wine.
4. Forethought, i.e. surprise.
Contrary to popular belief, we women are not hard creatures to please. Just burn actual brain cells to find the perfect surprise. It doesn't have to be big, but it does have to be for me and me alone.
Pros: It's a surprise which was executed without my help or direction, and required forethought and follow-through on my sweetheart's part. For that, I love you.
Cons: Can't think of any except there's a good possibility of no wine.
Good wine with a cork and everything. Impress me.
Pros: It's makes me happy, and it's good for my heart and cholesterol which means I'll live longer. And yes, I do think about that.
Cons: I may just have to share the bottle with that someone special. Oh well. That's what romance is all about.
After all, romance isn't about what works for everyone. Romance is about what works for that special someone.
Happy romancing...all year long,
Thursday, February 14, 2008
My expertise does not come from four years in a baccalaureate program or hosting a TV Talk show on the science of love. Lessons learned started in 1983, as a freshman, at University of Maryland, Eastern Shore where I met my husband, an upperclassman. The journey continues as we approach our 18th wedding anniversary this year. Two children, and a cat, later, I consider myself well past the PhD level.
Love thrives with lots of laughter. Luckily my sardonic, wry sense of humor is enhanced by my husband’s equally irreverent style. We are not to be seated together for serious occasions like weddings, church sermons, seminars, and yes, even funerals. And yet, I hate attending any social event without him where we can play thumb war under the table, I erupt into giggles because he tickled me, or I look into his eyes and know that he is about to say something quite silly.
Like our aging waistlines, love expands exponentially to wrap around our family unit. Real life enters after the honeymoon, bringing in the highs and lows. We learn that differences in each other are not to be condemned or excluded. Compromise fills any potholes creating a smoother, reinforced path. I hope that my children will take these lessons learned from our love to chart their own lives.
Since I cannot control that aspect of their lives, although being an overbearing mother-in-law does bring a grin, I craft stories about this amorphous thing called love. Published under Harlequin’s Kimani Romance, and ten books later, the fascination and addiction to romance do not lessen. Love in its courtship phase never gets old. Characters from my books like Sweet Surrender, Straight To The Heart, and upcoming release No One But You focus on acceptance and love for themselves before free falling into love with their soul mates, just like I did.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
It's the month the world turns it's mind and it's heart to romance. We of course, get to celebrate it every day! And one of the most fun things whether you be single, dating, engaged or married is that for a few hours each day you can get lost with a fantasy hero within the pages of a romance novel...
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I tend to start out with a main character - either the hero or the heroine and a situation that they are in - okay - classic secret baby conflict (overused - but it's quick and easy)
Short term conflict - She doesn't want him to know about the baby He believes she walked out on him for someone else
Long term conflict - the unresolved problem of the fact that he doesn't want children and she does and he thinks she has a new man in her life
Especially as he is clearly taken with the child
Stage three : Her friend gives away the fact that the baby is hers
Monday, February 11, 2008
And the question is inevitably accompanied by the worried looks and wrinkled frowns that imply that research must be pretty distasteful. Doesn't it mean having to sit in a library all day and read dusty non-fiction tomes written by dead people?
Well, yes. Sometimes.
But it also means getting to go to Ireland or Fiji or the Bahamas or wherever your little heart wants to set your next book (provided you can afford to get there), and soaking up the local color and then reliving the experience through the eyes of your characters for the next few months.
It means getting to interview really really interesting people you might never get a chance to cross paths with otherwise.
Before I wrote books I never would have considered calling up the head athletic trainer at a Division 1 university and asking if he would mind talking me through the rehab of a major league pitcher.
Before I wrote books I had no idea anyone built sand castles for a living, much less would be delighted to talk me through the construction of an 11 ton Victorian house built of sand.
Before I wrote books I had only a passing acquaintance with the life of a rodeo cowboy. I certainly never expected to have one volunteer to design an itinerary for my fictional cowboy who needed to 'go down the road' from the end of May until the first of August.
Nor did I expect him to call me at one in the morning when he was fogged in at the Santa Barbara airport so we could discuss it!
Let's just say that my horizons expanded exponentially when I began to write.
"Doing research" does sometimes involve dusty old tomes -- but seen through the eyes of my characters, they very often become vitally alive and interesting. More often, though, "doing research" involves me in the lives of others -- trying to experience the world as they do, see what they see, say what they say, perceive reality a bit -- or a lot -- differently than I do when I look at it from where I normally stand.
A year ago this very day I was getting on a plane (in the middle of a blizzard) to head to Ireland where I was going to try to walk in the shoes of Flynn Murray, my here-today-gone-tomorrow hero in One-Night Love Child. Flynn had been a bit player in an earlier book of mine, The Great Montana Cowboy Auction. Back then he was a footloose journalist, a fish out of water in the Montana I know well. So I didn't have to do much research for him in that book.
But in his own book, he was no longer wandering the world in search of a story. He was the earl of Dunmorey and heir to a 500 year old castle that was crumbling down around his ears.
What I knew about the Irish aristocracy was zilch. What I knew about old Irish houses at that point was what I'd read in books.
What I had learned by the end of my visit was that Flynn was going to have his hands full. Covering a war might be easier than being an earl. And that was only part of his problem. This was, after all, a romance. He had a heroine to sort out -- er, to woo and win -- too
What did I learn on my trip? Lots about manor houses -- that's Ballyvolane House in Cork, by the way -- lots about rain, lots about what it takes to make a house earn its keep. And happily, I reconfirmed some things I did know -- like the fact that little boys with train sets and dogs with wet paws are the same the world over.
Mostly, though, I got details. Specifics. All the things I needed that I didn't know I needed, but which, when I got home, gave life and detail to the book I sat down to write.
I also met wonderful people while doing my research.
These folks aren't in my book. But they did answer my questions and became my supporters and my friends. One of them, fortunately, was a man who spoke Irish. I really needed a friend who spoke Irish. And this one gallantly spent an evening and a morning translating all the Irish I thought I would need. And before he left Ballyvolane House, he gave me his email address and said whenever I needed any more Irish translations, be sure to write him.
Believe me, I did. When I needed a family motto -- in Irish -- not to mention several other phrases that came up along the way, I emailed James.
Can you tell that for me "doing research" is probably the most fun part of the book?
It gets me out of my office into parts of the world that I don't normally get to. It introduces me to people I would ordinarily never meet.
It enriches my writing. Even more, it enriches my life.
Anne's upcoming book, One-Night Love Child, about formerly footloose Flynn Murray, now the Earl of Dunmorey, is a March release from Harlequin Presents and an April release from HM&B Modern. She'd like to know what you think of research? If you're a writer, what's the best time you ever had researching. Hers was going to bull-riding school!
And if you're a reader, have you ever read a book that has made you want to explore some other career or place or way of life? Which book? What have you been inspired to do? Did you do it?
Leave a comment and win a copy of One-Night Love Child. Anne's dog, Gunnar (in March he'll be going by "O'Gunnar" -- or as Anne says, "Oh, Gunnar!") will pick a winner from all the comments left before Tuesday, February 12th.
And don't forget to drop by Anne's blog, Kate Walker's blog and Liz Fielding's blog for a chance to win copies of all three of their latest releases in their second annual Here Come The Grooms! contest this month.