Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Do Settings Make it Real? by Terry Spear

Whether you want to be or not???

So this is Hawaii...isn't it beautiful? Wouldn't you love to be there? What if I wrote that the hero and heroine looked out at the vista. What might they see? If I describe a little of that, you are there, with them. And you're happy. Because that's what storytelling does. It takes you off of your couch and lands you smack dab into paradise. And this is what we see. Palm fronds, lush green and red vegetation, the blue, blue sky melding with the darker blue ocean.

Now, that can be bad because what if the author plunges you into a dark underground tunnel, and maybe you're claustrophobic, and so is the character? Or what if you're now in Scotland in a drenching downpour about to lose control of your horse, or in a blinding snowstorm seeking shelter before every blood cell freezes?

That's the hazard of reading a book. You could be perfectly comfortable on your couch enjoying a great story, and the next thing you know, you could be fighting to survive. :)

It's NOT the author's fault. It's the characters' fault. You see, they have these goals. They want, they want, they want. And it's not easy. Giving them what they want. All the time.

Love. Romance. Revenge. Justice. Peace. Whatever. They want it and then somehow the author has to give it to them. They make all kinds of wrong choices. You tell them, no, don't go that way. And what do they do? Just like kids, they ignore you. And you say, I told you so. But now it's too late and you have to fix their mistakes.

So here you are as the reader, perfectly fine with them being at home, safe and sound, and they carry you into the wilds of the Amazon, or on a race for your life in the desert--with only a half of a canteen of water left, no oasis in sight, and you need six full canteens to survive.

Do you ever feel you are in the setting of a book? And is that good? Or do you want to get out of it and pronto???

"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality!"

Monday, February 25, 2013

A new breath of life ....

Well, a lot got accomplished last week besides a snow storm. Whee! My legal issues have been resolved and at the end of an extremely stressful week, I made it home through the snow to relax.

I haven't quite put it behind me, but I hope in the next few days to be able to get back to my old routines, which means writing writing writing!

It's funny how issues can just occupy so much of your mind without you really realizing it. It's like when I'm deep into writing. Those characters are always lurking in the back of my mind, waiting to come out when I write. This was the same way, something always in the back of my brain, clamoring for attention and diverting my energy.

So look out in the near months -- I may have a new burst of energy!

Friday, February 22, 2013


I've been thinking about color a lot lately. Color is often taken for granted by those of us with color vision, but it is so important to our world as writers.

We add imagery to our stories using color. The color of hair, eyes, complexion, along with other attributes, allows the reader to visualize our characters. Colors allow us to set a scene—the soft greens of a woodland, the vibrant reds, oranges, and gold of a summer garden, and the vermilion shades of a sunset.

What would a Regency romance be without rainbow-colored garments and opulent ballrooms? Does the choice of color for a contemporary heroine's blouse tell the reader something about her character? Does the colorful plaide of a Highlander inspire courage?

Color is important. We need to fill our stories with living color.

What about the cover? Color is really important there. I recently participated in a cover design workshop and learned the importance of color. Depending on the background, certain colors recede while others pop. We want our cover colors to catch the eye, especially as a thumbnail.

Do you find color important in novels?

~Dawn Marie

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The nature of romance

I was going to use this blog post to talk about the books I’m releasing this weekend, a set of three Cricket Starr novels called VioletAmong The Roses, Echo In The Hall, and Nemesis Of The Garden, the DivineInterventions series, now also in a money-saving box set. But when something unexpected and not particularly welcome happened this week that derailed my talking about my books and I think I should discuss that instead.

It is a question: What is true romance?

I had a chance to think about this on Valentine’s Day this year. My husband and I have been married for many, many years, but we still celebrate Valentine’s Day as many couples do, with gifts, flowers, and cards, and a romantic dinner.

This year was a bit different.

Since last weekend I’ve been ill. Not a life-threatening illness as it has turned out, but it involved visits to doctor’s offices, a CT scan on Tuesday, and a trip on the 14th to an emergency room to verify that one of my symptoms wasn’t a bigger problem than it was. My doctors were taking this illness very seriously. I reported an issue and was sent to the ER with orders to have my husband pull over and call 911 on the way if needed.

Do not pass Go, Do not collect $200.

Throughout all of this my husband drove me, shopped for me, and sat by my side for the hours of tests, no complaints even when twice he ended up someplace without any way of getting a decent lunch. Instead he soldiered on, kept me company and coddled me when we got home, making me Jello, fetching me juice when I was too tired to get off the couch, and insisting on doing the cooking and the dishes.

Somewhere in here I realized just how strong a man he is. Not the physical strength that we always rave about in our books but that quiet strength, the anchor I can depend on to back me up when things aren’t going as well as I’d like. I’ve always known how much I depend on him. But this week brought it home in a whole new way.

He did buy me flowers on Valentine’s Day, and a card and a gift, and even though we had to postpone a special dinner, what we did eat felt special if only because I didn’t have any Jello with it. But the real romance in the day was his standing by me during all those hours when I know he had other things to do because I was his top priority. This wasn’t a romantic Valentine’s Day in the traditional sense, but to me this will always be a very special one.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

THE STRUGGLE TO LOVE by Rolynn Anderson

It’s Valentine’s Day, and I'm happy to talk about the topic on almost every American’s mind.  But I'm going to take a slightly different tack on the subject by focusing on characters who shun romance.  As you know, I write romance/suspense.  I like to see events shake up a hero and heroine, pushing them to address their flaws and opening them to love and be loved.  I enjoy being the author-puppeteer, urging transformations in my characters.

In real life, people don’t change very much, probably because their  ‘shake-up’ never comes.  Still, we readers are eager to live, vicariously, the tumultuous lives of heros and heroines in a romantic suspense.

The mathematics I use in writing the story is interesting.  If I ramp up the flaws in a character, I must also intensify the events as well as sharpen the elements of the love interest.  But I have to be careful: the reader has to believe the transformation is possible.

Linda Howard, who writes fabulous romantic suspense, meets this challenge in DEATH ANGEL, with a terribly flawed hero.  Impossible, yet, believable transformations.  One of my favorite contemporary romances, WHEN VENUS FELL, by Deborah Smith, gets my ‘A’ as well in presenting a damaged hero and heroine. 

I’d like to know what romance novels you’ve enjoyed that present an extremely flawed hero/heroine whose character arc is well-crafted.  I need more pep pills…those stories charge me up!

Take a look at my Funeral Planner Suspense Series for a heroine who’s forced to change.  Here's SWOON:

Don't miss SWOON by Rolynn Anderson! If you like an interesting cast of characters, a heavy dose of mystery and a lot of fabulous surprises, you'll be happily turning pages late into the night.ˮ
~ Brenda Novak, NYT and USA Bestselling Author of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES
Her dead clients won’t rest in peace.
When the dead tell tales, Jan Solvang’s first reaction is to RUN!  But then she gets caught up in their mysteries.
Jan’s a boutique funeral planner, new to risk, hired to bury a missing woman and memorialize an infamous man.  Yet when she digs for clues to write their eulogies, she disturbs family secrets and unmasks killers.
Roman Keller, hard-driving documentary writer, is in complete control of his life and his stories, until he falls for Jan, a woman who trusts her dog, her faint-dreams, and her instincts more than she trusts him.

Can they make the sacrifices necessary to cement their relationship or will the mayhem caused by the dead ruin their second chance at love?  

Print version Amazon bitly.com/SJrVAR

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I've lost my Valentine's Day mojo!

Valentine's Day is just a few days away, and initially I thought I'd write a post on Valentine's Day.  Movies.  Books. Music.  Something.

But, maybe it's just the single girl in my :-)  I don't really have my Valentine's Day mojo.  So, there it is.  That's my blog.

How do I get my Valentine's Day mojo back?!

I went with two of my girlfriends to listen to live music at a great little venue here in Memphis, TN.  Some nights they have swing dancing, other nights salsa dancing, but the other day, it was a live concert.  The singer, Karen Brown had a beautiful voice.  The name of the show was "A Love Jones."  (Maybe the title of the show should've given me a hint, right?)

So, you would think friends, drinks, music...great, right.  Nope.  Being in a club surrounded by couples singing along to every song at the top of their voices did nothing but make my singleness all that more apparent.

Now, I should say one of my girlfriends is married, and the other is as single as me.  So, we were having a "girls" night.  But, we didn't expect the concert to be filled with mostly couples.

Unless you're the succubus from "The Lost Girl," I don't think being in a room filled with that much "love jones" does anything for you :-)

How do I get my mojo back?  Help!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Of course, love is in the air ...

So are colds, flu, and nasty illnesses. Just when you think you're safe, WHAM, you'll be hit.

The older I get, the more paranoid I get about getting sick. Not Howard Hughes paranoid, but I am careful about it. I remember a book I read a long time ago. The White Plague, by Frank Herbert (yes, the Frank Herbert of Dune fame). Long story short, it talked about how a mad scientist came up with a very nasty disease and how very easy it was to transmit that disease.

Hint: money.

Think about it. Money goes through many, many hands and who knows where those hands have been? Since read that book, I always Purell my hands after handling money.

Another thing I've noticed in today's world: look at how many meals we eat with our hands, not with silverware. Fast food, finger food -- whatever you want to call it -- and how often do we wash or Purell our hands before eating?

So in addition to safe sex, let's add Safe Eating to our list of things to consider. It's inevitable that each of us may be smitten by a disease, but let's do our darnest to make it tough for those little germ buggers to grab us.

And so ends this public service message.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Josie--Dave Barry and fitness

Hi Everyone, It's the 8th of the month and although most romance writers are blogging about Valentine's Day, I wanted to share Dave Barry's blog about a fitness program. Enjoy the chuckle with me and please leave a comment. :) "WHEN TO ACTUALLY START YOUR FITNESS PROGRAM: Not today certainly. You've done enough today! I would rule tomorrow out, also, seeing as how it comes to soon after today. You rush into these things, and the next thing you know you've strained a ligament or something. So I would say the best time to begin would be first thing after Easter, although not the one coming up." LOL! What do you say, everyone. Will next year's Easter work for you? Check out my Regency Inspirational, Seeking Patience, currently available on Amazon.com

Thursday, February 7, 2013

eReader Convert

I have a confession to make, though I thought I'd never succumb. I'm an e-reader convert.

Love my new eReader.

My husband gave me a Kindle DX for Christmas. Yeah, the one with the big screen. Probably the last one available on the continent, since it's discontinued.

With my weakening eyes, it's the perfect size.

Message to Amazon: You might want to reissue the DX, considering the baby-boomers are aging. Just a thought.

So…I've downloaded all my author friend's e-books I've been wanting to read. Didn't like reading them on my bulky big-screen laptop. (Theme here—weak eyes.) Oh, yeah, and did I mention the free books? You never know when you're going to find a new favorite author.

Besides the eReader is easier on my eyes.

However, I'll probably never fully give up traditional books. I just love the way they feel in my hands.

Oh, well, gotta run. I want to peruse the eBook on PhotoShop I downloaded to my Kindle. Maybe I can learn how to create eBook covers for my stories.


~Dawn Marie

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Rebel Bride Tour

Good Morning All,

I am currently on the Rebel Bride tour with Goddess Fish, and thought I shared new excerpt from the book. I hope you like it.

Set up: Eileen has been pushed off the train by the robber who came back to find her after he realizes she saw him. As expected, they don't get along that well. Eileen is not the cringing female, instead she is worried about the Marshal Colt Shepard.

“I thought you were educated, but you are plumb ignorant.” Eileen snorted at his remark and puffed up like a guinea hen, but that didn’t stop him from talking. “We are way north of Mexico. Train doesn’t even run that far south. You have no clue where you are, do you?” he asked with a superior grin.

“Yes.” She sniffed, raising her nose a bit. She had no clue where she was. Who’d have thought a robber would be better educated than she? It didn’t seem right. She didn’t pay great attention to books and maps, but she and her sister had a better education than most genteel females, too good if anyone queried her mother on the matter. Agatha Sewell declared too much knowledge was what kept her oldest daughter from marrying. Obviously, it was untrue, since she could not locate even Mexico. Her not being married had to do with having high standards and dreams, not education.

She had her chance to marry into some of the best families of the south, but she stubbornly held onto a dream. A vague image of a man who challenged her, met her toe-to-toe, face-to-face, lip-to-lip. Her dream man image shimmered and vanished. Colt’s smug countenance replaced it. Never had a thought occurred to her that she would look at a Yankee with desire, but she never felt anything close to what she felt for Colt with anyone else. She squeezed her eyes shut and balled up her fists, trying to force Colt out of her brain. There was no reason to dwell on a man who left her. If he had stayed with her, his robber would have found him.

Thanks everyone for reading.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Ice Cream Sandwiches for Lunch and Frogsicles

Blurred Boundaries                                                  

Where does my writing life end and my normal life start. Ironically, if you think of yourself as a full time writer…everyone else doesn’t. You are the woman or man with time on their hands who types a little every day. You’re suddenly the emergency contact for your neighbor’s child because you’re home. Your sister wants to drop by for lunch because you aren’t working. The list goes on.

Now technically, I’ve only been home a couple of months, and fought the same image as I did when on summer break. Writers who are also mothers, you know that if you have three children, a variety of pets, one minivan, and twenty-seven different activities per week, you don’t have down time. I tried to convince my children they could get a 4H ribbons for making their own meals while I developed characters. They did learn to cook to keep from starving. The non-teacher mothers who chose to let their youngsters under twelve stay home alone during the summer gave them instructions to hang out at my house. (I didn’t find out the instructions part out later until they confessed as teens.) I can take small satisfaction in that I fed their child junk food. That’s why he was so hyped up by the time his parents came home. It was also probably the reason the neighborhood kids chose to hang out at my house. That and the fact I ignored what they did unless it involved smoke and screaming. Words like "your mother is going to kill us," usually got me away from the keyboard. I could worry about character conflict after I dealt with my own.

Oh, I know, some of you are horrified, but it was hard enough trying to accomplish basic tasks with my three children, and my fishing dog. A chapter was forgotten when my dog looked at me expectantly with a Koi hanging out of his mouth. I think he expected praise instead of screaming. Afterall, it takes humans all day to catch a fish. Do Boxers have an aptitude for fishing?

I'd dream of quiet moments when I could write. They usually occur in the bathroom, or at three am. My children, especially those in college, come back transforming our home into a way station for young adults. I find myself at the stove more than at the laptop. Maybe I should be feeding the young adults ice cream sandwiches as I did with my summer visitors.

When I told people I was going to give writing a chance, they were full of suggestions. I was supposed to get up every morning, dress for work in heels and full makeup, and then lock myself in the office for the next six hours. Isn’t part of working at home, the joy of working in pajamas? Scratch that, I was unaware the furnace service guy was coming today. I thought I’d wake up in the morning and write for six hours. Instead, I converse with the furnace man who is only supposed to ready the unit for the season, not replace it. Then there’s the everyday living stuff. You’re familiar with laundry, dishes, cooking, and cleaning up after the dog. It doesn’t always wait until I get 2500 words typed or even a thousand.

My husband helps a great deal, but there still doesn’t seem to be enough time to query, edit, pitch and write. Once a book is out, promotion eats up my day, and often my night. There is very little time for leisure activities. I am sure I must be doing things wrong. If you have a book on being an efficient writer, I’ll read it. Of course, I’d pay more if you could just insert the information into my brain between the grocery list and seeds to plant in the garden. By the way, have you seen my dog? I really hope he doesn’t bring another frogsicle into the house. Maybe not, the pooch hasn't been feeling too good. It may have been something he ate. No doubt, I will be cleaning it up later, between promotions and emails.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spiders, Tight Shoes and Dialogue Tags

I have an aversion to all three.

Spiders are never pretty. Everyone I see gives me the willies. Yes, I know in the natural order of things, spiders serve a viable purpose. But, truthfully, I’d just as soon never see one.

In my lifetime I’ve had many pairs of too-tight shoes. Several were love at first sight -- or shoe lust. Yes, they may have felt a little snug in the store, but shoes stretch. Right? Well, they would if manufacturers wouldn't put those little silicon packets in the shoe boxes. I swear, from the time the cashier rings up my “kinda” tight heels and I get them home, that silicon pouch has shrunken them to the point of bend-my-toes-under status. Darn things.

“Dialogue tags.” Just the thought of them makes me cringe. I much prefer action beats. Let me give you a few examples.

“Mom!” Johnny yelled as he ran in the back door.

By using action beats, we can add some visuals. “Mom!” Hurricane Johnny blew in the back door, his hair standing on end and his cheeks reddened. We still know who is speaking, only now we can almost feel him whoosh in the door. We can see him. The passage becomes more vibrant.

Some feel said tags are needed when more than two people are in the scene. To which I’d like to suggest a writing prompt. Write a scene with six people around the dinner table. Have them conversing about politics or a recent murder or rise in taxes. Use said tags. Then replace them with action beats. Throw in descriptives of the speakers. What you’ll end up with is a scene that pops off the pages. No more he said/she said, but skillfully crafted prose that draws the reader in.
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