Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Meet Carrie Daniels Leading Lady in "The Deception"

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I really wanted to give Carrie Daniels, my Deception leading lady, a nice, girl-next-door quality, and judging by the comments I'm receiving from reviewers, it looks like I've hit my mark.

A freelance photographer and former child model, Carrie's entire world is about to come crumbling down. Three years earlier her mother suffered a debilitating stroke, and Carrie went from riches-to-rags once her mother's insurance ran out. Her financial calamity, however, is only the beginning of her problems. Doug, her significant other for the past ten years, is about to dump her. Once that happens, Carrie will be left homeless and vulnerable, making it all too easy for Louise, her former mentor, to seize the opportunity to exploit Carrie for her own selfish gains.

As the story unfolds, Carrie experiences both sides of infidelity. She's shocked and devastated when Doug admits he's been unfaithful to her. She'll later be deceived by Scott, a married man who presents himself to her, and her best friend, as a man who's single and available. Carrie leaves the relationship once she realizes things aren't adding up, but by then it will be too late as Scott's wife, Maggie, seeks revenge. Yet despite her troubles, Carrie remains resilient as she tries to make the best of what she can. She's the kind of character you can root for--sweet on the outside, but strong on the inside.

Carrie is a mostly fictitious character, in that I didn't model her after anyone in particular, although I may have put a little of myself into her. Photography has always been one of my life's passions, and, in my younger days, I too dreamed of being a model.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Why My Books are Religiously Neutral

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Someone recently asked me a very interesting question. Was The Reunion a Christian-oriented romance novel? I told her no, it was not. This is because I want readers of all faiths and beliefs to read, and enjoy, my books.

There are authors out there who, regardless of their genre, write novels geared toward readers of their faith. For example, last year I met Mormon author at a book signing. She informed me, quite matter-of-factly, that her books were LDS romance books. I looked at the covers, and sure 'nuf, the words, "LDS Romance," were included in all the subtitles. And since I'm not Mormon, she kind of looked down on me, as if I had two heads or something.

I'm pleased she has a faith that she believes strongly in, and if her religion enhances her life for the better then I'm all for it. However, from a marketing standpoint, she was limiting the scope of her readership to a very small percentage of readers.

As someone who believes in a higher power, my characters are also believers, but none are churchgoers because I don't want to endorse one religion over another. Any references made to God are generalized, and are stated with phrases such as, "then we'll all say a prayer that he'll be be found soon, safe and sound."

I admit I'm more spiritual than religious, meaning I believe in God, but I don't follow the dogma of any particular church. My parents weren't churchgoers, so I didn't attend Sunday school. As an adult, I found that whenever I joined a church, regardless of the denomination, I never stayed long due to the inevitable back-biting, politicking and out and out feuding going on amongst various members. 

So there you have it. I have my own set of spiritual beliefs, however, I don't use my books to proselytize or endorse any particular religion. I leave that up to the theologians.


Friday, July 13, 2012

Sweet, Sensual or Erotic Romance?

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In the world of romance writing there are three distinct sub-genres.
  • Sweet Romance
  • Sensual Romance
  • Erotic Romance or Erotica
Sweet Romance is squeaky clean. There is no sex between the characters. All passion is expressed through kissing, hand holding and perhaps brushing a hand along a face. Suitable for young teens or readers with strong religious or moral principles.

Sensual Romance includes a few sex scenes, but the language usually isn't harsh and the scenes typically aren't described in an overtly graphic way. The emphasis is on the character's emotions, and the scenes are included so they can consummate their relationship. In other words, the characters aren't having sex just because they can. The scene is there because it's a part of the storyline, but the plot doesn't revolve around the sex scenes. Oftentimes there are only a few sex scenes within the entire story.

Erotic Romance is all about the sex. The descriptions can be quite graphic and the story may include variations such as threesomes, orgies or bondage. Two characters falling in love isn't what the story is about. It's all about the characters having sex and a lot of it.

When I started writing romance novels I decided to write sensual romance. To me, it's the most logical choice because it's what most readers expect. My lead characters make love, but only after they've fallen in love and are emotionally invested in the relationship. Once their relationship is consummated I usually don't write another sex scene between the two as it would be redundant. I'll instead have scenes with foreplay followed by pillow talk. 

From time to time, however, a leading man or lady gets involved with the wrong person, and on those occasions I may approach the sex scenes a little differently. For example, in my upcoming novel The Deception, Carrie, the female lead, has just ended a long-term relationship. She then meets Scott, who isn't who he appears to be. Scott knows Carrie is emotionally vulnerable so he takes advantage of her. Because Scott is a one of the villains in the story, the sex scenes between him and Carrie are a little racier, but even then my sex scenes aren't overly graphic. I'm more interested in what the characters are feeling during the scene. Alex, leading man, doesn't appear until after Carrie's relationship with Scott has ended. The one thing I won't do is have my protagonists bed hopping.

If you're looking for sweet, squeaky-clean romance I'm afraid you won't find it in my books. However, if you're looking for a believable story that will leave you feeling satisfied as a reader, I'll think you'll be pleasantly surprised.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Yes, I Write More Than One Draft

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The other night I was watching Stephen King's Misery. Good flick, but not totally believable. I mean I bought the bit about the romance author being held captive by the deranged fan. Do a Google search and you'll find similar accounts of real-life events. No, I'm talking about the male lead, Paul Sheldon, producing a perfect first draft on a manual typewriter no less. Yeah, right. Like that would really happen in real life. The other unbelievable scene is when he and his agent are discussing the fact that his novels put his daughter through college. Really???? Hey, it's only a movie, but that scene made me laugh.

Okay, so the book was written in 1987. Back then the traditional publishers, (or the Big 6 as we authors like to call them), ruled the industry. They really did give big advances, at least to some authors. And I suppose that back then some authors probably made a good living off their books. No doubt Stephan King was one of them. However, it's certainly not the case today, but I digress.

Watching those perfectly written first drafts coming out of Sheldon's typewriter was a real hoot. Fun scenes, but pure fantasy. In the real world, we authors write many, many drafts and revisions. And then a funny thing happens when we write, particularly when we write novels. Our characters come to life, and they change and evolve right before our eyes as the plot unfolds. This means we may have to go back and rewrite earlier chapters. (Which I actually enjoy doing.) The point is that what you read in my books is the result of many rewrites and revisions, and that's before sending the manuscript to my editor.

But hey, I still enjoyed the movie. We authors love our fans, and Misery is a nightmare fantasy of a worst-case author-fan relationship. If you like suspense, without a lot of blood and gore, I recommend it.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Meet Ryan Knight, the Despicable Villain in "The Reunion"

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You know, creating devious, diabolical, despicable villains really is too much fun. Take Ryan Knight from The Reunion. He's certainly raised a few eyebrows and he sure got both my editor's and my proofreader's dander up. That's when I knew I'd created a great villain.

Ryan appears in the flashback chapters. He's a college student getting ready to graduate and embark on his career as an architect. He and Gillian, the leading lady, have been dating for a couple of years, but lately their relationship has become strained. Ryan's been putting in a lot of overtime at the architecture building. He says he's having to work late on class projects, but Gillian is having her doubts. A few days after his graduation he asks her to stop by his apartment. He has news he wants to share. Gillian believes he's going to propose to her, but Ryan's idea of a proposal is the last thing she ever expected to hear.

Ryan was inspired by several real life men I've known; a moody ex-boyfriend, my ex-husband, and a good friend's ex-husband. With a cocktail like that you know you've got a real monster on your hands. My editor commented that Ryan was, "a bit mental." But my proofreader had me rolling on the floor. Apparently she'd printed out some of the pages and was working on them in her apartment complex laundry room, and Ryan had made her so mad that she started yelling at him and calling him an S.O.B. (Only she didn't say the abbreviated version.) She then told me that she looked up and noticed other people in the laundry room were giving her some very strange looks. She was so mad at Ryan that I worried she would quit on me. I had to keep reassuring her that Ryan only appeared in the flashback chapters, early in the novel, and that his appearance ended at chapter six, with only rare mentions of him throughout the rest of the novel. Thankfully she stayed on board, and all I can say is that's a real villain.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Two Kinds of Other Women

My inspiration for  The Deception began a few years ago when I happened upon a blog by a psychic reader talking about the questions she's most often asked by clients. One of the questions was, "When will he leave his wife for me?" Needless to say, her post had a lot of comments, and I noticed a trend. It seemed that everyone believed the "other woman" knew he was married, and she's lying if she says she didn't know.

I may not have the credentials to be a relationship expert, but as a romance writer who's also been single for much of my adult life, I can attest to the fact that if experience really is the best teacher, then I must be a relationship expect many times over. It's been my own life observation that there are actually two kinds of other women out there. One is the aforementioned mistress who knew from the get-go he was married, but chose to get involved with him anyway. The other is a good woman who's been deceived. I'm here to talk about the latter.

Typically these are single women looking for a meaningful long-term relationship, or marriage. They happen to meet a seemingly nice man who appears to be single. He's not wearing a wedding ring. He's not mentioning a wife or girlfriend. And, in some cases, a mutual friend also thought he was single. Then, later on, after she's become seriously involved, she finds out he's married. She'll feel just as shocked and betrayed as the wife who's been cheated on, only she gets a double whammy. People will side with the wife, as she's an injured party. And, just like in that psychic's blog, they'll condemn her and say she's lying when she says she thought he was single.

This can be very devastating and it can do untold damage to her self-esteem. She's accused of setting out to intentionally hurt the wife when she didn't know there was a wife. She may be left with some serious trust issues. And in some cases she could have been so manipulated that she really does believe he'll leave his wife for her--someday. And sometimes he does. However, it's been my observation that most of these guys are players. They want to have their fun, but they have no intention of ever leaving their wives. After all, their wife is their safety net in case the other woman decides to get serious.

The Deception is the story of a good woman who meets up with such a player. He comes into her life at a time when she's emotionally vulnerable, and he intentionally leads her to believe that he's single too. It doesn't take long, however, for her to realize that something isn't adding up. Unfortunately for her, by the time she ends the relationship the damage has been done and she's left to deal with the unintended consequences. While my story may be fiction, I'm sorry to say that real-life versions of it happen everyday. The point I'm making with this book is to not to judge others too harshly.  Sometimes people simply aren't who they appear to be.