Nancy: Lessons From the Dreaded Day Job

Why, you might ask, have I taped a scene to my wall? To keep my brain guessing.

Why, you might ask, have I taped a scene to my wall? To keep my brain guessing.

Once upon a time, a very nice girl found herself working in a really stressful industry. Okay, you caught me: I’m talking about me. I haven’t qualified as a ‘girl’ for decades. And very nice…well, that depends upon the day and the situation. But I did work in a really stressful industry (US government proposal management, in case you’re desperately curious). Over the years, I developed some mad skills that I brought to bear on high-pressure, deadline-driven, writing-intensive problems.

A few months ago, I left that industry and promptly forgot (or more likely purged) much hard-earned wisdom about writing and revision. And while I’d always believed honing my fiction writing and storytelling skills only improved my performance on those (non-fiction) projects, I didn’t think much about what lessons from my day job could teach me about writing fiction.

For what feels like eons but has only been several weeks, Continue reading

Jilly: Educated and Entertained

Anyone interested in hearing Eloisa James, Ilona and Gordon Andrews, Alisha Rai, and Sarah MacLean discuss various aspects of romance writing?

I just spent almost three hours online watching a recording of a fascinating, funny and insightful seminar held last week at Duke University. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. My plan was to skim it for the good bits and listen to the rest later, but it turned out to be all killer, no filler. The only bits I skipped were the rest breaks 😉 .

The event was called Gender, Sexuality, Feminism and the Romance Novel, and indeed all those subjects are covered in an intelligent and engaging way, but there was so much more.

Each author talked about their home environment and what led them to become a romance writer. After that, the Q&A session included: Continue reading

Michaeline: Fishing for Ideas Amongst Columns of the Lovelorn

2017-02-18-art_lesson_charles_dana_gibson1

Dear M: I’m an up-and-coming illustrator with my choice of three eligible young men, but the older gentlemen of my design firm are queering my pitch. Love or money? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I adore advice columns, and have done so since I was a kid. Advice columns! Little mini-dramas that are so important to the POV character that she or he actually takes time from his or her real life to write to a third party, hoping for some pearls of wisdom.

I found a new column this week – apparently, it’s been around for decades, but thanks to the magic of the Google search, I found it this week. Elle’s Dear E. Jean. It’s full of fabulousness, as one might expect from a fashion magazine. Instead of the downhome rustics of Ann and Abby, we get women who are models, electrical engineers, designers who rose from homeless childhoods . . . it’s just a fascinating cross-section of womanhood, with a few men asking for advice as well.

I like the advice, which seems to always boil down to: be your most fabulous self, and choose the kind of partner that fabulous self needs. Trust in the universe to provide what you need, as long as you put in the effort.

Some of these columns are begging to be expanded into romance stories; others provide Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Hot Sweaty Sex Edition

love_holding_handsWhat better way to wrap up Valentine’s week than with a little hot, sweaty sex?

Right?

For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about writing (or not writing, as the case may be) sex scenes.  If you missed the posts, you can check them out here, here, here, here, and here.  It’s an interesting topic and one that has no real right or wrong answers.  What works for one reader may leave another cold, bored, dissatisfied, or skipping ahead.

I did a little research via my own bookshelves and found that, as a reader, I’m not even consistent about which scenes work for me and which don’t.  One of the “didn’t work for me” scenes was 27 pages long.   I’m still not entirely certain exactly what happened and I’m pretty sure some things were anatomically impossible.  Conversely, a scene that “did work for me” was almost as long, but had great pacing, a dash of humor, advanced the plot, and left a nice tingly feeling at the end.

What’s a writer to do? Continue reading

Kay: The Art of Love

Al and Roey Stickles dancing at the trailer park: Sarasota, Florida 1946. Photo courtesy of State Library and Archives of Florida - https://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/7157828142/

Al and Roey Stickles dancing at the trailer park: Sarasota, Florida 1946. Photo courtesy of State Library and Archives of Florida.  www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/7157828142/

I’ve started writing a scene that I think will be pivotal in my book. It’s a scene in which my hero and heroine have sex, but the sex will propel them into a new stage of their relationship. My critique partners have emphasized that it’s important that I show why my heroine has been unwilling to move forward quickly with the romance—she won’t move in with the hero—even though she must make a decision soon about whether to return to her old job across the country. If she goes, the relationship dies.

So to write this sex scene with as much sensitivity and weight as it needs, I wrote a scene that sets it up—my heroine tells the hero about her mother, and in so doing, reveals her feelings about family, home, and security. I wrote this scene from the hero’s POV, because I wanted readers to see his reactions to her story, and I wanted him to ask the questions I thought readers would be likely to ask if they’d been in the room with her. I spent some serious time on the scene, and it’s not bad. I’d give it maybe a B-.

Continue reading

Elizabeth: I ♥ Authors

valentineheartIt’s Tuesday afternoon as I’m writing this, so happy Valentine’s Day to those who celebrate and happy “there-will-be-leftover-candy–on-sale-tomorrow” to those who don’t.

While boyfriends, girlfriends, and spouses get most of the love and attention this time of year, I’d like to add authors to that list.  After all, where would we be without them, especially without romance writers and their happily-ever-afters.

As I mentioned in last week’s Friday Writing Sprint post, I went to an author book chat / signing at a (relatively) local bookstore on Friday evening.  It was a reward for meeting my recent writing word count, though technically, I deleted more words than I added.

The event featured Kristan Higgins and Brenda Novak along with their new books:  “On Second Thought” and “Secrets She Kept.”  I (briefly) met Kristan at the last RWA Conference in New York when she was doing a reading from her then-latest-book (“If You Only Knew”), but had never met/seen Brenda before (though I am familiar with her work).  Both the weather and the traffic cooperated – a miraculous occurrence on a wintery Friday evening – which meant I arrived at the bookstore that was hosting the event a full two hours early.

What to do, what to do? Continue reading

Nancy: Love for the Long Haul

kiss-on-windowBecause most of us here on the blog write (and read!) a lot of romance, the week of Valentine’s Day presents an opportunity to talk about that core component of a romance story: love. More specifically, believable, happily ever after (HEA) love.

I thought about HEA love this past week when Maria V. Snyder posted on her FB page about the need for Valentine’s Day cards for 25+-year relationships, cards along the lines of “you annoy me and drive me crazy but I’m still willing to put up with it” or “we worked hard to mesh and I don’t want to train anyone else”. Yeah, those aren’t quite the messages we tend to read or write in our romance novels, but they are tongue-in-cheek reminders that there are real-life HEAs.

Back in the fiction world, though, that ‘believable HEA’ part isn’t always easy to write, and doesn’t always resonate with readers. For example, Continue reading