Saturday, October 26, 2013

Meet Hal Tyler, the "Un-Evil" Antagonist in "The Journey"

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I seem to have gotten into the habit of creating some really evil antagonists. So much so that they're even scaring me and leaving me wondering where on earth are these people coming from? Then my good friend and fellow author, David Lee Summers, explained to me that the antagonist doesn't always have to be an evil villain. He or she could simply be someone whose goals are contrary to the protagonist's goals. So, after listening to David's comments, I've come up with an antagonist who has no evil intentions. 

Harrison Tyler, or Hal, as his friends call him, is a nurse practitioner and one of three antagonists who appear in The Journey. We first meet Hal during a time when Jeremy, the leading man, is missing and presumed dead. Cassie, Jeremy's wife, is still recovering from injuries from an auto accident, and, as luck would have it, meets Hal at a medical appointment. He happens to be filling in for someone else that day, and, as luck would also have it, he immediately falls for Cassie. Her brother-in-law, Larry, is also there. Larry thinks Hal is a decent guy, so he encourages Cassie to go have coffee with him. A reluctant Cassie finally agrees, just to get Larry off her back.

Cassie sees Hal as a friend who's come into her life at a time when she really needs one. To Hal, however, Cassie is a rare find. And while he hasn't quite fallen in love with her, he knows he wants her, and he's willing to wait patiently until she's ready. And if it means having to be persistent, if not a little bit manipulative, so be it. His intention isn't to cause any harm. He simply wants to make Cassie his--before it's too late.

Hal is a purely fictitious character and not inspired by anyone I've ever met in real life. He's a nice guy who's found himself in the awkward position of wanting something he can never really have, but still trying to reach for it anyway.

MM

Friday, August 30, 2013

I'm So Sorry To Be the Cause of Your Sleepless Nights

Just read a new review of The Reunion posted by a reader on Amazon. She mentioned being up until three o'clock in the morning reading the book because she simply couldn't put it down. Funny thing is, she's not the first one with this "problem." I've had similar "complaints" posted by friends on Facebook.

Well, what can I say? I'm sorry to be the cause of your sleepless nights, (she writes tongue in cheek). And you should see it from my end. There was many a night while I was writing The Reunion, (and The Deception and The Journey), that I didn't get to bed until well after midnight either because the ideas kept flowing. There were other times when I crawled into bed, so exhausted my that body ached, and then, just as I started to relax--BING! Out of nowhere came the next inspiration. I've learned, from experience, that if I go to sleep with the idea of writing it down the next morning the idea would be forgotten by the time I awoke. So I grumbled to myself as I got out of bed and went back on the computer, knowing full well that I might have to forgo a good night's sleep. Fortunately, it wouldn't take very long for me to get the idea down. Then I could finally go to sleep, and do the revising later.

So, what is it about my books that's so compelling? From what you, the readers, tell me, it's the plot twits and the characters. You've been telling me that my characters are very real and very believable. I honestly wish I could tell you my secret of how I create them, but I don't know how I do it either. Some characters, like Ian and Samantha in The Reunion, are inspired by real people. I'll use some of their real personalities as a starting point, then next thing I know the characters have taken on lives of their own and they have become unique individuals.  The same could be said for all the purely fictitious characters who weren't inspired by anyone in particular. I guess something must be going on in my subconscious mind. Whatever it is, it seems to be working, and I'm pleased you all are happy with the results. Meantime, while I wait for The Journey to come back from the editor, I'm cooking up a new cast of characters for my next book, The Betrayal. Look for that one sometime in 2014.

So for now, sleep tight.

MM

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Meet Jeremy Palmer, Leading Man in "The Journey"

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It's funny how things sometimes work out. Jeremy Palmer was originally intended to be a rouge character in The Reunion. He'd make a brief appearance, do his dirty deed, and then disappear into the night. But sometimes things don't go exactly as planned. As I was writing The Reunion, I came to realize that Ian, the leading man, wouldn't have had such an evil son. So Jeremy went from rogue villain to a rival, competing with his father for Gillian's affections, and creating a storyline that many readers tell me was their favorite part of The Reunion. Jeremy blossomed. Okay, he jumped off the page. He became a sexy, vibrant character worthy of having his own novel, The Journey.

We first meet Jeremy in The Reunion as a twenty-one-year-old bartender. He has his father's good looks, and his mother's bold, sometimes too direct, personality. Jeremy isn't one to mince words. He likes to get straight to the point, and his bluntness occasionally gets him into trouble.

The Journey begins approximately eighteen months after The Reunion has ended. Jeremy is now working as an engineer, and happily married to Cassie. (You really didn't think Ian would have allowed him to steal Gillian away, did you?) Unfortunately, Jeremy's world turns upside down the night Cassie is seriously injured in a car crash. He rushes to the hospital and stays by her side. As Cassie slowly recovers the two befriend Denise, one of Cassie's nurses. Denise seems familiar, and while Jeremy can't quite place her, she has never forgotten how he jilted her, years before. Denise wants a second chance with Jeremy, and she's about to unleash an evil plan to win him back.

Jeremy is a purely fictitious character. He wasn't inspired by anyone I knew in real life, although his character is very similar to the young Ian seen in the flashback chapters of The Reunion. The younger Ian was inspired by someone I knew, long ago. And just like his father, Ian, Jeremy will make his fair share of mistakes, no doubt making some readers saying, "Like father, like son."
MM

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's Okay. They're Just Storybook Characters

Photo by CanStockPhoto.com
The other day I read an article about the upcoming fall TV season, which mentioned that an actress on a top-rated show has decided not to return. It was followed by the usual comments. Some were sorry to see her leave, others thought the show would be better off without her. One comment was a bit odd. Among other things, the woman "prayed" for the characters.

Say what?

The highest compliment you can give any actor, or fiction writer, is to tell them their characters seem real. And the keyword here is, seem. They're fictitious characters. They're not actual living, breathing human beings, although they may seem very real in the pages or on the screen. And while prayers for the actors, or the writers, would certainly be appreciated, praying for a fictional character is a bit creepy. It sort of reminds me of Stephen King's Misery.

Some of my characters; Ian Palmer, Samantha Walsh, Alex Montoya, and Jason and Gillian Matthews, were inspired by real people I've known. Meaning I drew on the personalities of real individuals to create the characters, but they're all fictitious and most certainly not clones of their real-life counterparts. I go to a great deal of trouble to make my characters as three-dimensional as I possibly can, and yes, bad things happen to good people in my books. That's because plot lines revolve around tension and conflict, followed by a happy ending. I love it when readers and reviewers say they cheered for my good guys, and wanted to smack my bad guys.

I'm glad you love my characters, and I'm always thinking up new ones. You can certainly say a prayer for the real-life people who inspired some of them, but please, not for the characters themselves. They're not real. Sometimes I wish some of them were, but that's a post for another day.

MM

Saturday, July 13, 2013

But Would a Guy Really Say That?

I was reading a forum thread discussing the differences between men and women, and how they're more than just physical. A woman's psyche is also very different than a man's. It got me thinking about a challenge I face as a romance writer--writing a male character's dialog. I'm always having to stop and ask myself, would a guy really say that?

Back in the 90s I read, Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus, and while I can't recall all the details from the book, I remember it talked extensively about how men are more analytical, and women are more emotional. This doesn't mean one sex is superior to the other. It simply means that we think differently, so I've modeled my male characters accordingly. The female characters will talk openly about their relationships, while the men are more prone to retreat to their man caves. Jeremy, from The Reunion, and The Journey is particularly known to do this. The challenge for me is when I have to have a male character discuss his relationship. I am, after all, writing romance. The main focus of the story is interpersonal relationships, and do men really talk about things like this?

One way I've handled it by having a male character confide in a female character. In The Deception, Steve, a supporting character, talks to his fiancee about his concerns over Alex's relationship with Carrie.

* * *
“Is something wrong, Steve?”
“I’m afraid so.”
“What is it?”
“Alex and Carrie. C'mon, you saw it. They’ve become much too emotionally attached to one another.”
“They go way back,” she reminded him.
“No, there’s more to it than that. He’s fallen for her. Hard. Really, really hard.”
“Is that such a bad thing?”
“In itself, no. They’re two of my favorite people and under normal circumstances I’d be happy for both of them, but their situation isn’t normal. He’s representing her in a civil case and he’s losing his objectivity.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes,” he replied, matter-of-factly. “A few days ago I walked into Alex’s office. He’d just happened to have gotten off the phone with our old buddy, Scott Andrews. Apparently Scott had made some crack about his prior involvement with Carrie and Alex went into a screaming rage. I’ve never known him to ever do anything like that before. It was like listening to a jealous lover. That’s what has me worried.”
“How so?”
“Alex has always been unflappable. That’s why he has such a good track record. He stays calm and collected, just like a lion stalking its prey, while he waits patiently for the other side to make a mistake, and then he goes for the kill. He’s always been able to do that because he never allows himself to become emotionally wrapped up. But now he’s crossed that line, and even though it appears to be an open and shut case, this time he could, very easily, be the one who makes a mistake. If that happens, he could lose, and this is the one case, Allie, the one case that he can’t afford to lose.”
“Damn,” she said. “You can’t let that happen, Steve. It could destroy both of them.”
“I know that, so I’m going to have to keep close watch on him and I’m going try to persuade him to bring Reggie on board.”

* * *

Steve, being a guy, of course has a solution to the problem. Later, after things have gone "too far," he and Alex have a serious talk.

* * *

Steve looked up when he heard the sound of someone tapping at his door.
“Hey, Alex. What’s up?”
“I need to talk to you about something.”
“Of course. Come on in.”
Alex stepped inside, closed the door behind him, and pulled up a chair. He let out a sigh as he sat down.
“Are you all right, Alex? You look pretty serious.”
“I’m afraid your boy wonder has turned himself into boy blunder.”
Steve looked closer at Alex’s face. “You've slept with her, haven’t you?”
“Yeah.”
“Well now, that explains the happy glow.”
“Oh very funny.” There was a hint of sarcasm in Alex’s voice.
“Well, buddy, I can’t say I’m surprised. I saw this coming the day we all drove up to Flagstaff for her mother’s funeral. So, you know what happens next, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I do. I’ll have to recuse myself from her case.”
“It’s for the best for everyone involved, Alex. Even if you hadn’t taken it to that level, I’ve been concerned about your objectivity ever since the day you flipped out after speaking to Scott Andrews on the phone. That’s not like you. You never lose your cool. If something like that had happened in a courtroom—”
“It’ll never see the inside of a courtroom, Steve. Louise doesn’t have a case. She never did.”
“I know she doesn’t. Hopefully you’re right and it’ll never make it to court. However, our immediate concern is the here and now, which means we need to talk to Reggie.”
Before Alex could respond, Steve picked up his phone and dialed Reggie’s extension. As soon as she answered Steve asked her to come to his office. A minute later they heard a knock at the door. Steve opened it and she stepped inside, bringing a folder with her.

* * *

This time, since the conversation is between two men, I let them get to the point, as quickly as possible, and they then discuss a solution. Had this scene been between two female characters more time would have been spent discussing their feelings.

I don't know if this is how men really talk to one another behind closed doors or not. But if what I'm told by male friends, and by the John Gray book, is true, then I'm probably close. So far I've not heard any complaints from male readers.

MM

Friday, July 12, 2013

Killing Characters Off

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From time to time every novel writer has to deal with the (sometimes) unpleasant task of killing a character. It's just one of those things that happens. Killing someone isn't easy. (Well, at least some of the time,) but the only time I do it is when it's necessary to enhance the plot.

This first time I killed someone off was when I wrote The Reunion. I must confess, it was a cathartic experience. Jason Matthews, Gillian's ex husband, was one of the villains in the story. Interestingly enough, he was modeled after my real-life ex. Funny how these things happen. So poor Jason, (she writes tongue and cheek), meets an untimely end, and Gillian hears the story of his demise from a police detective. Did I mention that writing it was very cathartic? Afterwards I discussed it with several other lady authors. Many of them had also killed off their ex spouses--in the literary sense, of course. The lesson here, gentlemen, is if your wife or your girlfriend is an author, be nice to her. Your literary counterpart's life may depend on it.

I killed off another villain in The Deception. There were three villains in this story, two of whom were women. I killed one of the women, near the end of the story. Most of the plot had revolved around her conflict with Carrie, the leading lady. In the end, Carrie won battle, however this particular woman soon found a way to get even. Yes, I could have saved it for a possible sequel, but in this case the second conflict was directly related to the first, making a sequel redundant. So, rather than have the storyline repeat itself, I killed the character off, thus ending the conflict once and for all. Besides, she had it coming. I also thought about killing Scott, the deceptive male villain who inspired the title, but this character had children, and I didn't want to orphan them. Scott would instead end up seriously injured. He too had it coming. However, unlike Jason in The Reunion, none of the villains in The Deception were inspired by anyone I know in real life.

In my soon-to-be released novel, The Journey, I killed a supporting character from The Reunion. This time around the character wasn't a villain. She was a character I honestly liked and I tried to come up with a way for her to survive, but when I did the story just wasn't as strong. Her death was an intricate part of the plot. It happens early in the novel, but she still manages to maintain a presence in the rest of the story when other characters reminisce about her, or when they describe the dreams they have about her. Like The Deception, The Journey also has three villains, one male, two female, but this time around I didn't kill any of them. After all, I don't want to be too predictable.

MM

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Journey Cover Illustration

Kudos to Wes Lowe. Once again he's created a beautiful cover illustration for my next novel, The Journey.

Wes and I go way back. He started doing my cover illustrations back in 2007, when I was writing my Luke and Jenny novels, (under the name Gayle Martin.) I found Wes by happenstance when I was working on the second book in the series. The illustrator who did the first book cover wasn't available. My publisher had hired him, but this time around she didn't have anyone else to refer me to, so I was left scrambling. Granted, I have a degree in fine art, but it had been years since I'd picked up a paintbrush. At least I knew what to look for and I could speak the lingo, so I began my search and soon found Wes. Not only was he available, I liked the tone of his emails. He was warm and he had a positive attitude. The illustration he created for me didn't just meet my expectations, it exceeded them. Wes turned out to be a much better artist than the gentleman who did my first cover. Thus began a beautiful friendship. Our next project would be creating a new cover illustration for the first book.

Wes also did the cover illustrations for The Reunion and The Deception. Okay, I'll admit it. I dropped the ball on the earlier Reunion cover. I had this idea of using a photo of two red carnations. Red carnations were a theme throughout the book, so I thought they could be a metaphor for the two leading characters. Unfortunately, as every artist knows, sometimes things that look great in our minds don't always look so hot once they're on paper. And even though a number of readers had complemented me on the cover, in my mind it simply didn't work the way I'd envisioned. I went back to Wes, and once again, he nailed it.

This latest illustration has an interesting twist. The other night I posted it on Facebook, and a number of people began commenting that the young lady looked a lot like me. They all thought it was really cool. Oddly enough, Wes and I have never met in person, although he's probably seen my head shots on my websites. I just assumed he had used one of them as a model, but it turns out he didn't. Must be one of those interesting coincidences. Or maybe it's just the Universe reaffirming that I've found the right illustrator.

MM

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Original Plot Line for "The Reunion"

Like many authors, I write a treatment before I start writing the actual novel. A treatment is a brief summary, a blueprint if you will, of who the characters are and what the story will be about. It helps solidify ideas and creates a starting point. Once I start writing, however, I put the treatment aside and let my characters loose. When the novel is complete, I'll go back and look at the original treatment. To say the final story turned out differently would be an understatement. So, just for laughs, I'm posting what was in the original treatment for The Reunion.

Warning, spoiler alert!

Many of the main points from the original treatment were included the final novel, such as leading man Ian showing up unexpectedly at leading lady Gillian's opening at a Denver art gallery, and her subsequent return to Denver to hide out from her homicidal ex husband. However, a subplot about Ian selling his house and moving into a condo with his son, Larry, never made it into the final version. Good thing too. It was boring and did nothing to enhance the story. Likewise, many other scenes in the final novel were never included in the treatment, such as a pivotal moment when Gillian nearly drowns.

The most notable change, however, had to do with the characters themselves. Laura, Ian's ex wife, was intended to be shy and demure. A savvy businesswoman, she ended up being anything but shy and demure. Laura speaks her mind. That's why Jeremy is so direct.

And speaking of Ian's oldest son, Jeremy was originally intended to be a villain. Aggressive, if not nefarious, Jeremy was to only have a small role before being written out. In the treatment, Gillian befriends him and he tries to force himself on her. She, of course, turns him down. Rejected, he soon enlists in the Marines and ends up being deployed to Afghanistan while a furious Ian blames it all on Gillian. Nah, that definitely wouldn't have worked. Ian wouldn't have had such an evil son. Then Jeremy told me he wasn't a bad guy either, although he is still drawn to Gillian. He would, instead, became a rival, rescuing Gillian when she nearly drowns, then competing with his father for her affection. This created a whole new subplot which became the second half of the book. Many readers tell me it was their favorite part of the story.

The end of the story was fairly close to what was in the original treatment. Now I can't tell you that because it would spoil it for the those who haven't yet read the novel. Suffice to say that it all works out, and Gillian ends up with the right guy.

MM

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Oh My!

I've had some interesting feedback from some of the men who've been reading my novels. They tell me they've really enjoyed reading my sex scenes. Apparently I have a talent I didn't know I had. To quote George Takei, "Oh, my!"

Well, I confess. I've done some research on how to write effective "love" scenes, and I'm happy explain the techniques I use.

I start by taking my time to build the sexual tension between my characters, and the build up happens slowly. Arousal starts innocently, with hands accidentally brushing, or touching a forearm. The man may find the lady's dress sexy. Sometimes horseplay turns into foreplay.

Some body parts are never mentioned by name. I'm writing romance, not a medical textbook. My goal is to describe what the characters are feeling. I'll refer to it with words like, "she felt a sweet sensation." We all know what happens during "the act." My editor came up with a wonderful way to refer to it--"reaching his (or her) release," and I'll often use the words, "climax," "ecstasy" or, "the two briefly became one," when describing the euphoria the characters are experiencing.

I don't use much dialogue during my love scenes. Two people who love each other, and are making love for the first time, probably won't be in the mood for chatting, and too much dialogue would interrupt the flow of the story. I save the dialog for the pillow talk scene in the next chapter. One thing I will do, however, try to instill a sense of responsibility in my characters. Oftentimes the lady will be asked if she's using birth control, or the man will stop to apply a condom.

And, finally, I only use sex scenes to enhance the plot, and I use them sparingly. There are usually no more than two or three such scenes throughout my entire novel. My stories are about people and their relationships, and there's a whole lot more to a relationship than just having sex.

MM

Sunday, April 14, 2013

So Why Write Romance?

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I've been asked why I write romance, as opposed to other genres, like science fiction. It's a long sordid story, not unlike my novels. And while it may be a tired old cliche, it's true nonetheless; authors write what they know. I'm oftentimes inspired by events in my own life, some big, some small. Sometimes I write about the things I wish for. Other times it's about things that I wish I could go back and do differently. Most of us read fiction as a means of escape, and as a means to vicariously experience things outside of our own reality. Writing fiction amplifies this vicarious experience by a factor of at least ten.

I wrote The Reunion as a tribute to someone I knew long ago, and never forgot. The idea came to me at a book signing, when I struck up a conversation with another author. Turns out he lives in the same town as my old flame and his wife even knows someone who knows him. It got me to wondering what would happen if, by chance, he ever showed up while I was doing a book signing? That question is explored in The Reunion.

The Deception was inspired by another chapter of my own life. I once met a man who I thought was single, and a mutual friend thought he was single too. Turned out he wasn't, so I quickly backed off. I've since met a number of other women who've had the same experience, and even once knew a man who was shocked to discover his girlfriend was a married woman. It's an all-too-common occurrence  for many of us. The Deception is the story of a decent women who unknowingly becomes involved with a married man. It's purpose is to demonstrate that the "other woman" isn't always a home-wrecker because people who cheat will also lie.

My soon-to-be-released novel, The Journey, was inspired by my first husband, who was once the a victim of a violent crime. Jeremy, the leading man, strives to claim his life back and make himself whole again. Unfortunately, my ex used the event as an excuse to play the victim game and as a means to manipulate others. Hopefully most crime victims are more like Jeremy. Look for The Journey to be released later on in the year.

I'm in the early planning stages for my fourth novel, The Betrayal. Adultery is once again the theme. This time the leading lady is the wife who was cheated on, and the other woman will be someone close to her.  This novel is inspired by a story once told to me by an old boyfriend, who said he came home early one day and caught his (now ex) wife in the act.

My inspiration comes from everywhere and everyone. It seems I've had a rather interesting life.
 
MM

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Meet Maggie Andrews, The Queen of Mean in "The Deception"

Photo by Fotolia
Sometimes the villains I create in my novels are downright disturbing, and Maggie Andrews certainly fits the description. She's the woman readers love to hate in The Deception.

At first glance Maggie is the last person you'd expect to be so mean. She's a stay-at-home mom who's married to Scott, a software engineer who she fell in love with when she was nineteen. They have two typical all-American kids and live in a nice home in the suburbs. She and Scott also share a passion for art collecting. Maggie believes she's living the good life. Unfortunately for her, Scott has been leading a double life, and her perfect world is about to be shattered.

Maggie's favorite hour of the day is in the morning, right after everyone else has left for the day. That's when she likes to grab a second cup of coffee and catch up on her email. Then one fateful she borrows Scott's laptop, and her life will take an unexpected turn. She'll discover that Scott has a second email account, and once her curiosity gets the better of her she'll hack her way in and learn something she never wanted to know. Her heart breaks, but whatever sympathy readers may feel for her will be short lived. A darker side of Maggie quickly emerges as she hatches a plan for revenge that will have potentially deadly consequences.

Maggie is a fictitious character who wasn't inspired by anyone I've encountered in real-life. (Thank goodness.) She's a spiteful woman who's incapable of forgiveness, even after those who have wronged her have admitted it and have apologized for their transgressions to her. She's also the personification of the concept that two wrongs never make a right. That's why readers love to hate her.
MM

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Inspiration Behind "The Reunion"

Sometimes readers may think plots, storylines and themes of a novel are one in the same, but they're not. The theme is the idea behind the story. It's the point the author wants to make. For me, the theme can also be the inspiration that compels me to write the story. The plot is simply how the idea is expressed. The theme, or the idea behind The Reunion, is second chances. They say opportunity knocks but once, but sometimes, if we're lucky, it may come again.

I've known people who've been lucky in life. They met the man, or woman, of their dreams at a young age. Things worked out. They got married, had a few kids, and, with hard work and determination, they lived happily ever after. Then there's the rest of us. Either Prince Charming took a detour, or he turned out to be an impostor, or he got cold feet. Whatever the reason, we never got to have the "happily ever after" we wanted.

Before writing The Reunion, I had a conversation with a man who told me about reconnecting with his long-lost high school sweetheart on Facebook. They hadn't seen or heard from one another in years, but he found her, so he decided to take a chance. He contacted her. It turned out she was divorced, just like he was, so they reconnected. So far as I know, things worked out this time around, and it showed me that second chances really can happen. Sometimes people really do get a happy ending later in life. That conversation was part of my inspiration for The Reunion.

In The Reunion, leading man Ian gets scared and gets cold feet. This happens when he, and leading lady Gillian are young. After Ian ends it he moves to another another state. He soon realizes his mistake, but believing it's too late, he marries the wrong woman for the wrong reasons. In the meantime Gillian becomes a successful artist, but true love eludes her as well. Years later, fate intervenes. They meet again, and have a second chance.

The Reunion is a story of hope. The point I am making with my story is that true love not only never dies, it deserves a second chance.

MM

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Meet George McCormick, Crossover Character from THE DECEPTION

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As I write more novels I'm also starting to use crossover characters, meaning I'll take a supporting character from one book, and use him or her in another novel. It must be a habit I picked up when I wrote a series of children's books under a different name. The same two kids appeared in all the books, so I got comfortable with the idea of carrying characters from one book to another.

George McCormick, a supporting character from The Deception, is my first crossover character. A crusty ex homicide detective turned private investigator in The Deception, George is hired by Alex to prove Carrie's innocence after she's wrongly accused of plagiarism and copyright infringement. Later on, when Alex disappears, Carrie sends George to search for him.

George went on to appear in my next novel, The Journey. This time around he's been hired by an insurance company to investigate the disappearance and apparent murder of Jeremy Palmer. While not as big of a role this time around, George nonetheless plays a pivotal part in the story.

Crossover characters make the novels more fun. Readers will recognize those characters from other novels, and it's a nice way to interconnect my stories. Look for more crossover characters in future novels.


MM

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stuck in a Literary Sexual Rut

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Oh the problems one encounters when writing sensual romance novels. As I explained in my earlier blog post, Sweet, Sensual or Erotic Romance? there is a distinct difference between sensual romance and erotica. In sensual romance the sex scenes are written to help enhance the plot as the characters consummate their relationship. The emphasis is on what the people are feeling, while in erotica the emphasis is the sex act itself. The characters' feelings and emotions are of lesser importance. Most of the storyline in erotic literature focuses around having sex, where a sensual romance may only include a few sex scenes.

That said, as I'm working on my third novel, The Journey, I found myself in a bit of a rut when writing my sex scenes. Let's face it. There are only two kinds of equipment out there, and that equipment only works certain ways. I was starting to worry that my sex scenes might be becoming redundant.

I decided to do a little research, so the other day I downloaded a copy of an anthology by Anais Nin called, Little Birds. Ms. Nin is perhaps the "literary madam," of erotic literature. I thought I might learn something new about writing erotic scenes from her. What I found, at least in my opinion, were stories that were a little cold. The characters were one-dimensional and lacked passion. Afterwards I looked at my own writing, and I think there's something to be said for writing about what the characters are feeling, emotionally as well as physically. As for the redundancy--I suppose it is what it is. Even Ms. Nin's stories were a bit redundant, yet decades later readers still enjoy them. I guess there are some things in life that people probably aren't going to get tired of. Like sex. And chocolate cake.

MM

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No, I Don't Do Formula Writing

I got the nicest compliment from a woman who told me how much she enjoyed reading The Deception. She compared me to Nora Roberts, which was very kind. Then she told me that unlike Nora Roberts, I don't use formula writing. I'll admit I haven't read that many Nora Roberts books, but she told me that every Nora Roberts novel follows the same pattern, and that her books are very predictable. What she liked about The Deception was that it wasn't predictable at all. The plot twists kept her attention and kept her turning the pages.

Well, what can I say? I strive to create realistic, three-dimensional characters, and I try to write life-like story lines, (albeit somewhat exaggerated.) As I write, I tune into my character's minds. I try to see what they're seeing and to feel what they're feeling. I'm concerned about the conflicts they're facing, and how they're going to resolve them. I simply can't worry about having to have the leading lady met the leading man by page ten, or about having my climax occur twenty pages before the novel ends. That kind of rigidness would destroy my creativity as stifle me a storyteller.

Real life isn't a formula and it isn't predictable. Neither are my novels.

MM