Sunday, January 27, 2013

Valentine's Day is right around the corner!

Maybe because Valentine's Day is just a few weeks away, I'm in a mood for love.  Or, at least, to discuss dating.

Recently, I wrote a post for my blog "Please tell me when did I become my mother!"  The post was about the way men ask women out to date, and how I actually miss the good old fashioned telephone call or someone asking you out in person.

I decided to do a little poll of my own.  I asked a few of the women of my own family what their preference would be for a man to ask them out on a first date.

Their choices: phone call, face-to-face, text, or email.  I asked eight women: three of the women were fifty plus; three of the women were forty plus; and two women were under twenty-five.

As you could probably imagine, this broke down along generational lines.  There were some exceptions based on the individual person's personal techy skills and love of gadgets, but basically fifty plus was against any requests that were not "personal," the forty plus group was a bit of a split: some okay with text requests, but no one was in favor of email requests, the twenty-five and under group wondered why anyone did anything other than text :-)  They've even had people request dates through FB!

As a writer, I've written stories that involved online dating, and we've all seen movies with plots based on email.  But, if it was you...what would you want?

You guys all know I'm a Hallmark Channel super fan!  So, as we get closer and closer to Valentine's Day, I'm sure I'll think more and more about this question.

How would you like to be asked out on a date for Valentine's Day?

Friday, January 25, 2013

A new home for an old book?

I had a dilemma. I had this book I wrote, but I didn't think any of my publishers would want it. It's from the male POV, 1st person, and well, I just wasn't sure they'd want it.

So that book languished on my computer (not really. It just sat there).

Then lo and behold, one of my publishers (The Wild Rose Press) announced they were expanding their submissions and maybe -- just maybe -- this book might fit with them.

Why go with a publisher instead of self-publish it? A couple of reasons. One is that I have several books I'll be self-publishing this year, so I don't really need this one in the queue. The other reason is that I think when I have a book out with a publisher, I get some good publicity not only for that book, but for my back list with the publisher. Since I have a lot of books with them, it makes sense for me to see if I can continue my relationship with them.

Keep your fingers crossed -- I have some editing to do and it's not a done deal that it will be accepted. But there may be life for that poor old manuscript after all!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A New Book Cover

Once again I am launching a new book. This story is very dear to me because my great, great grandfather helped me write it. In 1849 during his journey across the country from Missouri to California on a wagon train, he kept a journal. It's kept under glass at the Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, California. My Mother was able to get a copy of the the journal and I was able to use some of his experiences in my wagon train story. I hope he is smiling down on me and happy with what I accomplished with his help.
During the Civil War he turned his doctoring skill over to the war effort and his rank was Surgeon General. I love having such grand records from my ancestors to help me with my stories. His wife, my great, great grandmother is supposedly the first woman to be published in a magazine. Leave it to my Mother, she never gave up tracking down these stories and found them at the Sacramento State Library. Only because she was the great granddaughter was she able to get a copy of the seven stories. Because they are considered valuable, she wasn't able to touch them. The person in charge actually used instruments to lift and copy the stories. I was amazed to find some similarity between one of her stories and mine, some of the sentences almost word for word alike.
Meet my great, great grandfather Dr. Charles A. Kirkpatrick.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2012 FTHRW Golden Gateway Winners

Congratulations to the 2012 From The Heart Romance Writers Golden Gateway contest winners and finalists.

Thank you to the coordinators, first round judges and final round judges.

Publishing LLC
1st Place: Moon Borne by Heather Boey **Full requested from another
2nd Place (tie): The Ring by Jaclyn V. Di Bona
2nd Place (tie): Shift Happens: A Carus Novel by Jasmin McKenzie/JC
4th Place: Stone Guardian by Danielle Monsch
5th Place (tie): Just Once in a Very Blue Moon by Dawn Wolzein/Dawn
Marie Hamilton
5th Place (tie): Eavesdropper by Sarah Templeton/Cera Daniels

HISTORICAL - Erika Tsang, Avon Books
1st Place: The Parachutist by Dora Mekouar/Diana Quincy **Full request**
2nd Place: Dark Star by Callie Burdette/Callie Russell
3rd Place: Dagger's Destiny by Karen Woodward
4th Place (tie): The Wicked Earl of Westfield by Betty Trovarelli/Renee
Ann Miller
4th Place (tie): Miss Chesley's Secret Night by Barbara
Huddleston/Barbara Bettis

1st Place: Sunsets on Catfish Bar by Mary E. Strand
2nd Place: Synchrony's Call by Susan J. Bickford
3rd Place (tie): Close Knit by Beverly Diehl
3rd Place (tie): Seemingly Perfect by Mary E. Strand
5th Place: Rifles, Racquets, and Rabbit Holes by Robin Haseltine

1st Place (tie): When Sparrows Cry by Heidi Luchterhand **Full
1st Place (tie): Ms. Scrooge by Anita Calhoun **Full Requested**
1st Place (tie): Fugitive Heart by HiDee Ekstrom
4th Place: The Billionaire's Hypnotized Mistress by Greta MacEachern
5th Place: Love on the Menu by Joan Rhine

SINGLE TITLE - Deb Werksman, Sourcebooks
1st Place: Love Waltzes In by Alanna Albertson
2nd Place: Jungle Blooms by Evelyn M. Timidaiski/Evie Morris
3rd Place: Hawaiian Heat: The Marriage Trap by Diane Garner
4th Place: Going All The Way by Heidi Ulrich/Megan Ryder

ROMANTIC SUSPENSE - Latoya Smith, Grand Central Publishing
1st Place: Looking into Hell by Kristine Thompson **Full request**
2nd Place: Her Unreasonable Doubt by Anne-Marie Carroll **Partial
3rd Place: Waking Up In Hell by Kristine Thompson
4th Place: Guilty by Design by Mary E. Strand
5th Place: Mint Condition by Katina Drennan/Kat Drennan

Laura Barth, Harlequin Heartwarming
Tessa Woodward, HarperCollins/Avon
Michelle Grajkowski, 3 Seas Literary Agency

1st Place: The Missing Time by Sandra J. Clarke **Full request (3
2nd Place: The Last Bachelor by Tina Radcliffe **Full request (3
3rd Place: Read My Lips by Kelle Z. Riley **First 100 pages requested
(3 Seas)**
4th Place (tie): Tracked Through Time by Becky Lower
4th Place (tie): Alien Contact for Idiots by Edward Hoornaert

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Repetition is the boon of good advice.

I’ve read before that memorable characters have both an inner and an outer goal.  Laurie Hultzer, in her power-packed little e-book, “How To Evaluate Stories,” says a solid story is framed around what the main character wants—and what he or she actually needs.

A character’s Want is a clear, simple, ego-driven, and obtainable goal that directly benefits this main character. It is concrete and specific. A character’s Need is a deep inner ache, yearning or longing that the character is unaware of, denies, suppresses, or ignores. 

The action of a story is based on the conflict between the main character’s Want and Need. The tougher the choice the heroine has to make—the greater the risk she takes—the more satisfying (and probably more marketable) the story.

The resolution of a romance can vary. For example:

  1. The main character gets what she wanted, only to find that it is not satisfying. Reese Witherspoon’s character in Legally Blonde wants her boyfriend back. She follows him to college, takes his courses, interns at his firm, bests him at ‘lawyer-ing.’ When he sees her as desirable again, she realizes he is not what she wants anymore. In the comedy House Bunny, the heroine is kicked out of the Playboy mansion on her birthday. She lands at a sorority house for misfits and teaches them how to succeed socially. In the process, she learns to value herself, so when “Hef” finally invites her back, she doesn’t want to go back.  She doesn’t want her original Want anymore.

  1. The main character gets what he or she wants, only to have it destroy him. In Dangerous Liasons, John Malkovich’s character wins the bet with Glenn Close and seduces Michelle Phillip’s character. By doing this, though, he destroys the only woman who has ever truly loved him, and ends up dying, too.

  1. The main character can abandon his or her original Want and embrace a deeper Need. Like a childless woman who finally adopts, falls in love with her adopted baby, and then gets pregnant, a character can discover a better Want—or end up getting the Want after all. When Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman refuses to become Edward Lewis’ mistress, she abandons her original Want for financial security.  She gains the self-esteem she’s needed all along, and then in a true HEA, gets the whole enchilada of man, love and security.

Thanks to the advice, repeated in Laurie’s book, I am verifying that I have clearly defined (in my head) my new WIP's heroine’s Want and her Need. Then I will make sure as I write that I don't type into any dead ends. I will steer straight and escalate the tug-of-war between her want and her need.

Friday, January 18, 2013

A Reader Point of View with Barbara Vey

We recently invited Barbara Vey, Publishers Weekly senior editor, to attend the January meeting of our chapter, Florida Romance Writers, FRW, in Fort Lauderdale.

In a quick presentation, Barbara talked about her love for reading and her blog for Publishers Weekly. She has a team of readers who review books but are not allowed to write negative reviews. If they don't like a book, they pass it on to another reader with the understanding that your taste is not mine. What I don't like you may like. Now if no one like the book, then no review will be posted.

Barbara insisted that anything related to the book is the author's responsibility.

If the book cover is ugly, it's the author's fault even if the author never chose that book cover. A reader will never think of blaming the artist!

If the book contains typos, it's the author's fault even if last minute corrections by the editor introduced the typos. A reader will never think of blaming the editor!

If the price is too high, it's the author's fault even if the author has no say in the price decided upon by the publisher. A reader will never think of blaming the publisher!

The reader knows you, the author. He/She doesn't know your editor, artist, or publisher! So be ready to accept full responsibility for your book. By the same token, you will get full credit if your book is a bestseller.

A reader is usually loyal to the author she likes and will buy all her books, without looking at the price.

A reader will also stay with you, whether you are NY  oublished or self-published, or change publisher.

On the other hand, when it comes to unknown authors, or authors who are not bestseller celebrities, you should have something to attract attention: book cover, blurb, price and great voice as revealed by a sample of the book or the first pages.

Keep these advice in mind when you publish your next book.

Blurb: A heartwarming holiday story set in South Florida.

Dedicated to her patients, the serious Dr. Madelyn Ramsay never had time for fun. An unexpected health problem jolts her into the realization that there’s more to life than just work. She longs to surrender to the magic of Christmas.

But can she handle the charming and secretive Dr. Nick Preston who carries his own package of disillusions? Can she allow two newborn twins to worm their way into her heart?
Stay tuned for VALENTINE BABIES, the next book in the Holidays Babies Series, that will be published next week.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

VOICES FROM THE HEART: Series are an author’s best friend

VOICES FROM THE HEART: Series are an author’s best friend: I’ve written a number of series so far, four to be exact, and I love all of them. There are some that are more popular than others like th...

Series are an author’s best friend

I’ve written a number of series so far, four to be exact, and I love all of them. There are some that are more popular than others like the Gaian Story series which is science fiction romance about men who are looking for the woman that matches them to marry, and Hollywood After Dark, which is vampires and werewolves looking for their mates. But I’ve never been sorry to write a series.

The Girl In The Box - Free!
For one thing readers like series. If they like the world and the characters of a book, they want to read more about them. Even if the characters of the first book only show up as minor characters in a second one, I find that readers like to see how things are going for them. And sometimes a minor character in a book is so charismatic that they end up staring in a future book.

Why do I know this? Well, for one thing, I love to read series books myself. There are a number of authors whose books I read because I picked up a copy of one of them, and then proceeded to buy all of the books in the series before and after the book I read. I’ve also found that I tend to hear from readers about the books I write, particularly things like “when is so-and-so going to get their book?”
When you hear something like that, it is very hard to decide to write something else. After all, I want to make my readers happy.

However, there are some challenges to writing a series. For one thing when you are writing a series set in a particular world with continuing characters you have to keep the world constant. If you establish that someone is blond and blue-eyed in one book, they have to stay blond and blue-eyed in the next... unless you want to fit them with contacts and dye their hair. Age is harder to work around. A 100-year-old vampire can’t turn out to be 200 years old in the next book. This can lead to challenges when you have a series with as many books as I have. I bought a copy of Scrivener to see if I couldn’t keep track of things that way and in writing this last Gaian story it helped a lot. Now I have a common nomenclature for the electronic gismos in my world that I didn't have before.

How does everyone else track details of a world? Spreadsheets, word documents, or are there other writing tools people use? That’s a good topic for discussion. What do the other writers here use to keep their world details straight?

Janet Miller/Cricket Starr

Monday, January 14, 2013


Writing about a boutique funeral planner has brought me nose to nose with death issues.  What a surprise!  I’m a pantser, you see, so the first book ‘happened,’ then pretty soon a second book ‘developed;’ now a third book in the series ‘will occur.’  Sigh.  I never thought I'd be tweeting with funeral homes, morticians and thanatologists!

Here’s how it happened.  Since I made up the term ‘boutique funeral planner,’ I had to research ALL the rituals of the major religions.  In other words for my funeral planner to be quirky and different, I had to discover what was ‘normal’ in the world of memorials.  Let me tell you, what I learned was an eye-opener…there’s nothing tame in traditional! (I’ll report my learnings in another blog.)

I found out about thanatology (the realm of palliative care; it’s a Greek word meaning ‘the personification of death’),  which broadens into the sociological aspects of planning for death.  That research led me to ‘DEATH CAFES,’ a loosely organized group of people who meet occasionally to talk about death and dying issues.  See:

What’s more, even more impressive, I learned about the ‘aging to saging’ movement, a truly fascinating organization that helps people live their last 20-30 years with verve!  Check out ‘aging to saging’ on your browser as well as the term ‘eldering.’

Morbid?  Absolutely not.  I’ve learned so much in this journey.  More important, I’ve got grist for my next novel.  For now, here’s the Funeral Planner Series:  FADEOUT and 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?  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Do parts of your life become a work of fiction?

How much of you—the author—goes onto the page of your fiction stories?

As a novelist, we weave together stories that, hopefully, tell and interesting tale from open to close.  After the words are on the page, we review and edit to check timeline, facts, and consistency.  We rip apart our story arcs, character development and growth, and pick at every single word chosen.

But, what about our heroes and heroines?  How much of them is us, of us is them?

When people compliment me on the emotion of my characters, I always say thank you.  Why?  Because I’m not a military wife, and I haven’t lost a husband in a war.  Because I’ve never lost a child.  Because I’ve never been a victim of abuse.  But, the fact that readers believe the emotion in the books I’ve written makes me feel like I’ve done something right.

Recently, I met an author who wrote a fictional account of her battle to survive a relationship with an abusive partner.  The author’s initials are L.J. and her heroine’s initials are L.J.  I asked her about this, and she said that when she originally wrote the book, she didn’t want people to know it was her story.  So, she hid behind Clark Kent’s glasses, so to speak.  But, after more thought, she decided it was okay for people to know.  And since that time she’s spoken on panels about domestic violence, and her book is an Amazon bestseller.

As a novelist, I believe the more I tap into my own emotions the more I am able to connect with readers.  But, the connection can leave the writer exposed.  So much of the author ends up on the page.

How do you balance the emotion of your characters and the life of the author?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Simple goals

I don't set concrete, milestone-focused goals because inevitably something derails any good intentions. This year I came up with 3 goals:

Eat Right. Just be mindful about what I eat. No more robo-eating, chowing down while I'm doing something else. I already have a daily habit of exercise, so now it's a matter of making good eating a daily habit.

Write Daily. I've been wickedly busy through the summer with legal crap, the Day Job, getting settled in a new home, and a million other things. I used to ALWAYS make time for writing, no matter what, but somehow I got out of that habit. Heck, I wrote 27 books while holding down a full-time job. Yes, I'm still working full-time, but I have even more time since I now telecommute and no longer that the grind of sitting in traffic. So no more excuses.I will write daily.

Daily Promo. I dislike doing blatant promotion, so I made a deal with myself: I would make one promo post (or blog entry or something) every day that's related to me as a writer. I would post to a Yahoo group, or on a blog, or on Facebook, or *somewhere* that relates to me as a writer. One a day.

Here we are, 10 days into the year, and I'm doing it. I'm sticking with all 3 goals. Writing daily has been a problem until I realized that the research I'm doing for the next book counts, too. It's all writing-related.

It's doable. Now it's just a matter of doing it.

Famous last words ....

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Dave Barry

Hi Everyone,

It's that time of the month, and now that it's January, some of us begin to think about New Year resolutions and dieting. Please share this chuckle with me:

"The other day my wife was in a terrific mood, and you know why? Because she had successfully put on a size-6 outfit. She said this made her feel wonderful. She said, and this is a direct quote: "I wouldn't care if these pants were this big (here she holds her hands far apart) as long as they have a '6' on them." Here's how you could get rich: Start a women's clothing store called "Size 2," in which all garments, including those that were originally intended to be restaurant awnings, had labels with the words "Size 2." I bet you'd sell clothes like crazy."

LOL! Me again. Is he right? Is size 6 the size most women want to be?
Seeking Catherine (historical romance novella set in Tudor England)Seeking Patience

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Overcoming Obstacles


Many times obstacles in life cause us to stop or find another way. Think of driving down a familiar road when a giant hole and a road closed sign both loom ahead. Your natural response is to retrace your route until you can find an alternate road. Maybe it is an unfamiliar path, instead, then, your reaction could be to return home thinking it’s impossible. Rationalization follows about not needing to go, or never wanting to anyhow, or putting it until another day.

Writing is full of similar blocks. Age used to be my personal block. I now look Desiree Holt as my model because she pumping out sizzling erotica at seventy-six. She refused to stop because of her age or pigeonholed as to what she could write.  

Writer’s block refers to not being able to think of where to go next in the plot. In the movies the blocked writer goes for long walks, meets with his agent and talks about the block. He does everything, but write because he is stymied by the next paragraph. I asked Mellanie Szereto, popular Siren author, what she did when she hit a difficult point in her story. Her response was that she’d work on a different story. At that time, she had almost eleven stories in progress. This worked out well because she signed a contract to produce eight stories.

Bad reviews often make us doubt our skills. Depending on your writing group, mine is wonderful, then, you may not have experienced petty, hateful remarks dressed up as a critical commentary. The bad review might be your first brush with someone not liking your baby. Have a favorite author, go on Amazon and look at their reviews. Heather Graham's new series, The Keepers, has everything from five to one star reviews. A fellow group member advised me any book that has consistently five star reviews is someone who is posting bogus reviews by family and friends. Not everyone will like your book, and that’s okay too. Still, they could have some class about it.

Obstacles are what make a reader continue reading a story to see how it is resolved. That’s the great thing about romance. We guarantee the reader a happy ending making them content to read on to find it. Who hasn’t read dramatic fiction or a mystery to have the heroine killed in an unsatisfactory ending? They term that realistic fiction, but I wonder if the writer didn’t simply write himself in a corner.

Romance writers try harder. Currently, I am reading The Last Bride of Ballymuir by Dorien Kelly, and the book starts out the hero being a convicted terrorist, recently released.  Miss Kelly starts the story with major obstacles that I willing embrace as I read page after page. Your heroes and heroines overcome roadblocks you should too.

Often our worst stumbling blocks are our own families who gobble up our time, and make depreciating comments about our writing. It seemed natural in the Rebel Heartsong, the third book in the Rebel Hearts series that Townsend’s issue is his parents. Here is a small excerpt. Townsend discovers his mother kicked Yvette, his love, off the plantation.

His long legs allowed him to take the steps two at a time until he reached the landing where both his sisters, wrapped in robes and barefooted, stood at the door of their mother’s suite. Her maid, Matilda, tried to turn away the agitated females.

“I said your mother has retired for the night.”

Eileen ordered the woman. “Wake her up. This is important. Yvette is missing.”

Their mother appeared in the doorway still dressed in her finery, showing she’d neither retired nor slept. She waved Matilda out of the way. “Go to bed, girls. Your floozy companion left you to take up with that worthless Macomber. Good riddance to both of them, I say.”

Townsend stood stunned on the last step leading to the landing. Did he even know this woman?  He considered his mother pretentious, arrogant, stiff-necked, and too full of her own value to acknowledge those around her. He never thought she was a malicious liar. Apparently, he’d been mistaken, which made him wondered what else was askew in his world.

“Liar,” he screamed the words, causing his sisters and mother to stare at him. A couple of servants popped out their heads, but seeing it was a family matter disappeared into the dark.  Marcus Sewell barreled out of his suite of rooms nightshirt clad and waving a Navy Colt pistol.

His wife raked his with a contemptuous glance. “Put that gun away.”

Marcus, red-faced, turned to confront his family. “Townsend, how dare you call your mother a liar.”

His heart thumped hard, and the pressure in his head felt like the top could fly off anytime. He had to make his father understand. He had to make everything right again. Raising his right arm, he pointed to his mother who stood proud, attempting to stare him down. No way, he wasn’t ten anymore when his mother was full of let this be our little secret whisperings when she didn’t want Marcus to know something.

“This woman, your wife.” He refused to call her his mother. “Send Yvette packing because one of the guests attacked her in the hall after drinking heavily.”

Emily was the first to speak. “Mother, you didn’t.”

Eileen waded into the discussion. “How could you? She can’t help it because she’s beautiful. You dress her in those horrendous clothes, trying to hide her beauty, but it still shines forth. Rather like a light under a bushel basket. I’ve slapped down my share of ardent suitors, and you still kept me.”

Townsend’s gaze flickered to each family member. His father still said nothing, but he was growing angrier by the moment. His stiffening shoulders and narrowed eyes told the story, along with him placing the pistol on the hall table. His mother, however, thought she could act her way out of this skirmish.

“Oh la, Eileen, you’ll being silly. Of course, we would never throw out family. That girl was just trash.” Her mother gracefully gestured her hand as if to throw something away.

Trash. That’s how her mother thought of her? It might explain why she refused to use her name even once.

Marcus’s voice boomed, stopping all conversation and movement. “Agatha, you go too far. Girls, go to bed.”

His sisters complained little as they left, though he was fully aware they’d eavesdrop at their partially open door as they usually did.

His mother pointed at him. “Be a good boy and go now.” She made a shooing motion with her hands as if he were a lapdog.

No way in hell, that was happening. He stood his ground. Hard to believe he actually went along with his mother for so long. Call it respect. Call it love. He never saw her as a monster until tonight.

Rebel Heartsong will be out in late January in eBook format available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and the Secret Cravings website.

Remember to move around your writing obstacles, climb over them, or go through them if need be, but just keep writing.



Friday, January 4, 2013

Let's Hear It for the Average Guy Hero

My writing group sits down to read the first chapter of a multi-published author’s foray into the world of romance. Before this tale, she was mainly known for western mysteries featuring hard-bitten characters who are neither pretty or polite. She shrugs, and explains that the characters have to be perfectly gorgeous and well mannered. A romance demands it.

Well, I do understand what she means. I’ve read almost 5000 romances so I’ve seen my share of charming rakes and breath-taking beauties, but I have also seen a change in the general genre. For example: we no longer have seventeen year old girls hooking up with men close enough to forty to be their father’s friend. The woman no longer has to be a young girl, or never married. We even have women (gasp) hitting forty or older who still are capable of falling in love.

Our heroines have changed from women waiting to start their lives with the right man to females with a career and a purpose. This fits the sensibilities of the modern woman better. So why are the heroes the same? Harlequin is the leader in romance with their many imprints and prolific output and distribution. Their favorite hero is a wealthy billionaire, powerful leader, plus drop dead gorgeous. He has to be tall because that is indicative of being a romantic lead. He has charming manners and a romantic side, which adds up to stereotypical hero.

He may not rescue the heroine from villains, but he rescues her all the same, even if her personal bogeyman is not having wads of money to throw around. He wades in and makes all her problems go away. I just finished reading about six of these books for review, and wondered if it wasn’t time for the average guy to be the romantic hero. Many authors have already started inserting everyman men in their novels.

Lori Copeland had a hero significantly shorter than the female. Debbie Macomber went a step farther and put the man in a wheelchair. This was a major step because he did not suddenly get well when loved by a good woman. Instead, he remained in the wheelchair and loved her back. It is hard going for the ordinary Joe because romance novels are the ultimate in escapism literature. This would imply that zombies, vampires, and werewolves are closer to reality than a wealthy, dashing hero is.

To some extent, I would have to agree.  Here is my argument as a thinking woman, why would a man who has everything that would make him irresistible to all women, go looking for our humble heroine? Some writers have the man living like a monk before he finds our girl. I don’t buy it. If he is divorced, it is always portrayed the ex-wife was at fault. With that lack of accountability, he certainly won’t make a good second husband.

The rake, the man who gets around, is another popular template for the romantic hero, especially historic romances. Suddenly, he finds the right virginal female and gives up his roving ways. Players stay players ask any woman who has ever married one.  Ever noticed the book ends shortly after our rake asks for the woman’s hand. If the book continued to its inevitable conclusion, the man would be eyeing up her best friend or maid.

 What is wrong with a man who is divorced, and takes responsibility for his part of the marriage break-up? He sounds like a better bet than the male who puts it all on his ex-wife, or the player. How about a guy who isn’t a lady-killer? An ordinary man who has attractive features and behaviors, but isn’t featured in a money or fashion magazine, but is similar to John Cusack in the movie, Must Love Dogs.  The man makes mistakes, fumbles the relationship, but realizes he may have lost the best thing in his life. It makes you appreciate him more when he gets it right.

With this thought in mind, I try to create my heroes from everyman clay. Cub in Blue’s hero is a cop returning to duty after being shot with doubts about his ability to serve. Puppy Love features a bespectacled vet who just moved to town. Unexpected Cougar features a quiet engineer, who sometimes bungles romantic encounters. My WIP hero is a friend who has known the heroine for ten years, but has never revealed his feelings until now when they both are in danger. None are what you would call romantic heroes, but they are everyman guys who are heroes to the women who love them.

Having a normal guy with a winning smile and a thoughtful mien are much more believable than the billionaire who roars into town in his Maserati only to fall in love with the overworked, single mother who waitresses at the local diner. Romance is pure escapism, but there has to be something you can hold onto and believe it could happen, possibly to you. There hasn’t been one spotting of billionaire playboys looking for the right woman in our town, or even environs nearby. It makes sense to go with the guy who owns the hardware store who is capable of making the grand gesture when he falls hard for the woman of his dreams. Let’s hear it for the common man hero.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Do You Like Setting Goals? by Vonnie Davis

The holidays are over and life returns to normal. But, for writers, what is normal? Characters that populate our minds. Conversations that play-out in the shower. Written scenes that waken us in the middle of the night to tell us we'd written them wrong. Queries, synopsis, edits, releases, promotions.--all of these things are normalcy for writers.

Depressing at times.
Exhilarating at others.
Still, writing is what we love. It's what makes our souls happy. So, what are your plans for 2013? Will you finish your current WIP? Or will you spread your wings to try penning something new? These were questions my agent asked me recently. "What do you want to accomplish next?" She sipped at her drink, her piercing eyes watching and waiting for my reactions to her question.
We talked, plotted and created a wish list for the coming year. Personally I hate doing that. I always feel like I'm setting myself up for failure. I'd rather flutter along from idea to idea like a butterfly in a garden of blooms. My thinking being if I don't set goals, then I can't fail. Right?
Maybe not.
I do have one goal: to become stronger as a writer. That means I have a lot of learning to do.


As we step forward into 2013, may you begin to achieve your goals--your next goal, a better goal. Even if you hate listing them the way I do. Make a plan, figure out how to achieve it and move forward to that end. Good luck and great sales in 2013.


You won’t believe this email. I’m sitting in a French safe house, eating caviar and drinking champagne with handsome government agent, Niko Reynard. He’s wearing nothing but silk pajama bottoms and mega doses of sex appeal. I’m in big trouble, little sister. He’s kissed me several times and given me a foot massage that nearly caused spontaneous combustion. I'm feeling strangely virginal compared to the sexual prowess this thirty-year-old man exudes.

When I came to Paris for a bit of adventure, I never imagined I’d foil a bombing attempt, karate-kick two men, and run from terrorists while wearing a new pair of stilettos. I met a German musician, a gay poet from Australia, and the most delightful older French woman.

Don’t worry. I’m safe…the jury’s still out on yummy Niko, though. The more champagne I drink, the less reserved I feel. What an unforgettable fortieth birthday!

** Available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Countdown to Howl! by Terry Spear

My Wilde & Woolly Bears weren't cooperating at all for the picture. Burgundy bear was whispering to Baylor bear about something. Her triplet was just being silly on top of the carriage. And Eagle Scout bear decided to do a headstand. But what can you expect from teddy bears?

All wish you a Happy New Years for 2013!
And my wolves, jaguars, Highlanders and fae all do too. And me too!!!

Are you doing anything special for New Year's Day? I was going to go to a movie, but I got so far on Silence of the Wolf, I might just keep working on it. 82K, 8 to go!

Have you any New Year's Goals???

I wrote half of the blogs for the guest blog tour for A Howl for a Highlander before Christmas as the tour is earlier than usual!!! Instead of starting Feb 1 for a Feb 1 release, it's beginning Jan 21!Which means my first New Year's Goal is to write the remaining blogs!!! And finish writing Silence of the Wolf,  start writing the next Highland wolf story and finish it, and the third jaguar story. I've also got to write my next Highland Medieval story as sales are phenomenal, and the next YA fantasy in The Dark Fae series! And I need to pitch another couple or 3 stories to Sourcebooks.

And that's just the beginning.

I'm going to my first RomCon, AAD and I'll be attending RWA Nationals....

Personally, I need to continue cleaning out stuff I don't need or use....I feel so great when I do that...but doing that is hard to do sometimes!!!! I have boxes of stuff in my barn. How much do you want to bet that if I just took them to Goodwill, I'd never miss them? I haven't opened them in 3 years! So it's time to clean out and I've really been working on it. It's almost like losing pounds, which is something else I need to do!!

A Howl for the Highlander
(Book 10)


Feb 2013

Duncan MacNeill is a Highlander at heart with a mission—find gray wolf and former stockbroker, Silverman who has stolen the family fortune and is purported to be living in the Grand Cayman Islands. As a Highland wolf, Duncan rarely leaves his native homeland and taking a trip to an island paradise doesn’t appeal. But keeping the MacNeill’s ancestral castle depends on making Silverman pay. What Duncan doesn’t plan for is the American botanist who distracts him from his mission and makes him realize what an island paradise really means.Shelley Campbell is teaching botany at a Florida college, when she receives an email from an old girlfriend, who’s renting a villa on the island and wants her to come to stay with her. Figuring she can study the old growth forest while she's there, and lecture about it when she returns home, she has no idea the secrets she might uncover. When her girlfriend’s a no-show, a Highlander turns up instead, and she has a choice—share the villa, or send him away and pay full price for the accommodations—which on her teacher’s salary is stretching things pretty thin. Since he promises to be no trouble at all, she lets him stay. And that’s when the trouble really begins!Amazon

DebraTaylor, The Night Owl Reviews
Score: 5.00 / 5 - Reviewer Top Pick
"Another fun and sexy read from Terry Spear! The Queen of shifter romance has done it again. Whether it be wolf or jaguar, this author is one of the best in her genre. Howl for a Highlander is the sizzling love story of sexy Scottish werewolf, Duncan MacNeill and his American she-wolf, Shelley Campbell.
If you're in the mood for a fun shifter romance then I recommend trying this awesome story. I guarantee you won't regret it and that, like me, you'll be hooked for life."

Here is the schedule for A Countdown to Howl

1/21 Vampire Romance Books

1/22 Night Owl Reviews

1/23 Sia McKye’s Thoughts Over Coffee

1/24 Literal Addiction

1/25 Under the Covers

1/28 Book Lovin’ Mamas

1/29 Anna’s Book Blog

1/30 Urban Girl Reader

2/1  History Undressed

2/8 Book Lovers, Inc

2/13 Fresh Fiction

2/13 Star Crossed Romance

So are you ready for the New Years? And have lots of new stuff you want to do???

Happy New Years! May your year be all that you wish of it.

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