Friday, August 26, 2016

Writing Contests by Cheryl Bolen


I once got roped into reading a wannabe author’s first chapter. It read like those first clumsy efforts we all wrote and thought were wonderful. I told her she needed to get in a critique group and needed to enter contests. I went on to tell her that many of us got our first contracts as a result of entering a writing contest and making the finals, which were then sent to an editor who selected the ultimate winner. 

Her response: “What if I don’t make the finals?”    

My response: “If you’re not good enough to make the finals in a writing contest, you’re certainly not good enough to get published.” 

Like many aspiring authors, she didn’t listen. Instead of entering contests, she sent that crude sample of her writing to editors with the certainty that they would fall in love with her words. Which they didn’t.  

I have no room to criticize. I had done the same thing back in my twenties with my first novel. It was many years later before I learned how to make contests work for me. 

I feel that making the finals in one particular RWA-sponsored contest in 1996 led to my first sale to a New York publisher. 

Then when my first book was published, it won for me the title of “Notable New Author.” I was sure winning that contest would open up a lot of publishing doors. It didn’t, but knowing that a lot of judges thought my book the best made me feel like a consummate professional.

I still love to enter writing contests. My husband thinks it’s silly. “You know you’re a good, competent writer,” he says. “You don’t need any more validation.” 

Since I went (mostly) indie five years ago, it’s more important than ever that I receive professional validation in a field that’s littered with many, many authors whose prose isn’t much better than the sixth graders to whom I once taught English. 

I’ve been happy to win some contests since I went indie and to place in many others. Does it help sell my books? Probably not. But showing pictures of my plaques and awards on Facebook gives this social media-challenged chick something to post. Here are a couple of the ones I’ve posted, and my readers usually respond favorably to these posts, either to congratulate me or to say they loved the book that won.  



The ultimate contest is the Rita. I have entered every year I was eligible, except one. My dream is to one day be a finalist for that lovely statuette—the highest accolade a romance writer can earn. My husband just shakes his head. He already believes I’m the best. Aren’t husbands wonderful? – Cheryl Bolen’s three Pride and Prejudice novellas are now available in one volume, print or digital, titled Pride and Prejudice Sequels.

 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Entertainment and Personal Growth from Fiction

By Lynn Crandall

They do exist. And they’re not going anywhere.

My tag line for my Fierce Hearts series suggests something unknown lives among us and these unknowns belong on the planet just like other forms of life.

In the case of my books, what exists are were-lynxes, a colony of them. Each of the ten were-lynx shifters live and work in the world of humans. From physicians to private investigators and schoolteachers, to investigative reporters, bankers, receptionists, and architects, each were-lynx works, lives, plays without detection of their secret identity.  

The “undetected” is of supreme importance. Keeping their true selves secret is mandatory, enforced by an ancient law among the were-lynxes in the world, and for good reason. History tells the colony that when anything “different” is discovered, humans feel threatened and typically destroy the threat. So the colony members create a family of their own making. This concept is a way to explore what makes a family, one that is truly supportive and promotes growth as an individual. The concept challenges the notion that biologically linked individuals need each other and provide a safe space. It’s not true for many of us and reading about paranormal characters who help one another no matter what, suggests there is family for everyone if we expand our definition.

In paranormal romances set in the present in our own world, secrecy is a common aspect of the characters. That secrecy can wear on the characters as chronic stress. This stress is something to consider when doing characterization. Even though not human, paranormal characters face similar challenges as humans and can be highly relatable characters. Even though paranormal characters are different and commonly have special abilities, they deal with not only problems peculiar to their species, but to things like insecurity, loss, grief, brewing anger at past experiences, and more issues readers can relate to. But just as with many humans and perhaps more acutely, they fundamentally long to be seen and loved as who they really are. Often they’ve learned so thoroughly to protect themselves from being discovered, they present a range of defenses, perfect character traits for flawed, relatable, and interesting characters who engage readers. But more than that, they can challenge readers’ beliefs about the world and open them to new ways of seeing it.

I want my books to entertain. But I also strive to write books that offer a model of personal growth. In creating believable, interesting paranormal characters there is no shortage of ways a character can present in his or her world. An empathic character could potentially help others process difficult emotions. But that same character most likely would be so sensitive that she would suffer from the cloud of free-floating emotions that follows her everywhere. How does she manage all the input she gets without losing her mind? It’s not a far-fetched dilemma for sensitive people to relate with and perhaps learn something new about themselves or a sensitive friend. Or how does a character who’s a genius but socially awkward navigate relationships, both paranormal and human? How does a telepathic character find peace when complex human thoughts bombard him all the time? These inner conflicts are grounded in our reality but when presented in a paranormal character can prompt awareness in a new way. This experience in my own reading of paranormal romances has been eye opening and rich.

For me, paranormal characters offer new opportunities to explore themes of diversity, self-doubt, faulty beliefs, mindless defenses, broken hearts, and how individuals triumph or falter. A beautiful and apparently self-confident were-lynx can manage her life being truly different. But what happens when memories of the pain of her molestation as a child get louder when she tries to develop a love relationship? She can shift into her were-lynx form and race on all fours through a dark meadow, the sounds of nature soothing her soul. But that only takes her further from engaging meaningfully with her true love. Her fictional character can illustrate how coping mechanisms take us over but can’t heal our brokenness.

Characters that are strictly human can illustrate the story of a lonely heart or a deep-seated anger and do it well. But I feel paranormal characters are expressly equipped to entertain while also presenting food for thought in a very easily digestible manner and in so doing can also encourage self-acceptance and imagining a better life. It’s happened to me while reading about half-demon heroines who struggle with her innate traits, and a group of shifters who provide meaningful friendships and help one another become true to themselves.


As with all characters, paranormal characters need inner conflicts as well as exterior conflicts. When you’re a shifter with special abilities, you can employ them to deal with exterior conflicts. But you’re still different and live under the threat of discovery. Paranormal characters are dealing with a lot of stuff. Such characters offer authors opportunities to explore inner turmoil in ways readers can see themselves and challenge their status quo.

Is your fiction reading something you do simply for pleasure or have you learned things about personal growth, too?

If you're interested in stepping into my were-lynx world, visit Lynn Crandall Website  and leave a comment to be entered into a giveaway for my short story Finding Finn.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Summer Love

Summer love has a lot going for it.  Beaches and heat put people in swimsuits and skin, so it’s easy for us to admire and be admired.  Light-hearted vacations bring a chance to travel and a respite from responsibilities. Long days push dinners later, and the nights are mild enough to take us out under the stars. Conditions are naturally prime for a bit of romance.

Odds are, however, a summer romance won’t last. That’s the sweet and horrible thing about them.  Fall will come, school will begin, and reality will sweep in like a cold tide.  We can hope we’re the exception, like Sandy and Danny from Grease, but we won’t really know until we’re tested.  That’s the underlying angst of the summer romance: how will or won’t it end? Only the autumn will tell.
Caragh M. O'Brien is the writer of The Vault of Dreamers and other YA novels.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Historical Research for the Contemporary Writer by Bonnie Edwards

Historical Research for the Contemporary Writer by Bonnie Edwards

I write contemporary romance but a few years ago I got a blindingly complete idea for a paranormal erotic romance that my editor snapped up for the Aphrodisia line at Kensington Books.

I was so excited by the idea that I sent an email that said something like, “What would you think about a book set in a haunted bordello where the dead hookers tell their stories?” Four minutes later a response came asking for two books.

My first series was born, but wow! Dead hookers? A hundred-year-old mansion? The spirits of the hookers who worked in Perdition House each had a story to tell. Since they lived in the mansion pre-WWI I had some major work to do.

For the first time ever, I found myself writing historical fiction. Why? Because each story is told in real time by the women while the contemporary heroine is sleeping. In other words, Faye Grantham falls asleep and dreams a vignette out of a woman’s life.

So, while Perdition House has a contemporary heroine, it also has several historical heroines as well. Confused yet? I never was. As I said above, the idea came to me in blinding clarity.

Back to research…

One question on the net about brothel museums led me to The Montana Historical Society at the state website.

I learned that Butte, Montana had a reputation for its bordellos and vice dens. I also learned that the crusader Carrie Nation had met her match in madam May Maloy. The women scuffled in a saloon and Ms. Maloy emerged the winner.

Butte became the perfect place for me to find my madam. Not a prostitute, I decided, but a kept woman, raised by a single mother who'd embraced the Free Love movement that rose in the years following the Civil War.

So, I had the real Carrie on one side of the movement for social change and Belle, a fictional forward-thinking free love advocate who also needed to make a living. I used Carrie's appearance in Butte as a ticking clock.

In one vignette signs appear that Carrie's due to arrive. In another, I show the scuffle that ended Carrie's time in Butte. Carrie Nation is a catalyst for change within the novel's historical setting. Belle, my fictional madam, sees Carrie's interference in Butte's business as a sign that it's time to move on. She decides to collect several women and head west to Seattle to build a fine mansion dedicated to elite businessmen and powerful politicians.

Oddly, months after completing the first story (then titled by Kensington as Midnight Confessions) I fell across the book: Stella, by Linda J. Eversole. This is a creative non-fiction biography of a madam, Stella Carroll, who operated brothels from San Francisco to Victoria, BC.

Reading the account of Stella's life sent chills up my spine. Her reasons for choosing her locations were exactly the reasons I chose to set the mansion where I did. Her attitude toward living the high life, having the best wines, the best foods, fine clothes were shared by my fictional heroine, Belle Grantham.

Creepy? You bet. The real story of Stella Carroll proved that I'd come at my characters correctly. They felt real to me and then, having read about Stella, I hoped my characters in Perdition House felt real to readers as well.

Perdition House An Erotic Saga Part 1 is FREE and available for download at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00LDBRD0U

And for iBooks, Nook, Kobo and other retailers here: https://books2read.com/u/bpDwXb

I'm showing you the cover for Part 2 because I love it so much! 








Friday, August 19, 2016

Romance and American Veterans

My husband, Buzz, is a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I'm forever grateful that he didn't have to serve in a war, but his dad, Lee, was wounded in France during World War II and earned a badge of military merit called the Purple Heart.

During Lee's life, he actively supported and was served by the Disabled American Veterans Organization. Due to a hearing loss from artillery percussion, Buzz also became a lifetime member of the DAV.

Established in 1920, the DAV has an excellent record for supporting veterans. They have local chapters across the country that supply canes, crutches, hospital beds, walkers, and other necessities to veterans in need.

My latest book, ZACK'S RANCH, is a romance that touches on the issue of wounded veterans. Supporting their recovery is a subject very dear to our hearts. We donate what we can, but I've decided to dedicate all the print proceeds for my BRIDLETON series to our local chapter of the DAV. Print earnings don't add up to big money, but it's another way we can contribute.

The series includes three titles; ANDREA'S HOMECOMING, CHEY'S COWBOY, and ZACK'S RANCH. Print proceeds on all of them will go to our local DAV Madison Chapter #93.



Print copies of the books are only available at Amazon.com. If anyone is interested in donating directly to the Disabled American Veterans, you can use this link https://www.dav.org/ to their official website.

Until next time, take care and keep reading!


Hugs, Becky

www.BeckyBarker.com
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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

He Missed Being on the Cover
by Jo Ann Brown

Yep, he’s an important character in the story, a plot device that brings the hero and heroine together...and he didn’t make the cover.
I’m talking about one of the alpacas owned by the hero in An Amish Reunion.
When I first got the idea for the book, I knew nothing about alpacas except that being in the store where alpaca wool sweaters are sold makes me itch like crazy. Alpaca wool is supposed to be good for people who have allergies. Too bad nobody told my hives. I’d included a llama in a Regency entitled A Highland Folly (written as Jo Ann Ferguson), but even though both llamas and alpacas live in South America, they are different.
So it was time to hit the books. After doing some research on these adorable animals who look as if they were designed by Disney, I made the alpacas into the plot device that triggers the realization for the hero and the heroine that living without each other was a bad idea. Then came the time to offer input on the cover art, and again the alpacas were front and center in the information I provided.
However, none of my cute alpacas made the cover.
I’d gotten caught up in a common writer trap. I forgot that the most important parts of a romance novel are always the hero and the heroine. No matter how much fun it is to have silly alpacas or how heartwarming it can be for a child to find his way home, the story is always primarily about the hero and the heroine. As soon as a writer forgets that, the book is in trouble. It’ll get kicked back to the author with a rejection stating either that the work isn’t focused enough or that the story doesn’t have enough emotional power. Worse is when the reader feels that the heart of the novel isn’t the tale of two hearts growing together.
So it’s up to the author to create something new and wonderful at the same time it’s a story “old as time” (clearly I have Disney on the mind even though I’m watching the Olympics as I write this) where two very different people meet and are changed so much that they can’t imagine living without each other.
It’s a lesson authors have to remember with each new project...or else they won’t have to worry about what or who’s on the cover. Because there won’t be a romance novel without that romance in the spotlight on every page of the story.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Where’d That Idea Come From?

Where do you get your ideas? Like most authors, if I’ve heard that question once, I’ve heard it a hundred … no make that a thousand … times.

And, as I’ve always said, my ideas come from life.

I write both contemporary and historical romances, as well as the historical sub-genre known as vintage (think 1950’s, 1960’s). Ideas for each if these varied genres must be gleaned from entirely different places.

Contemporary romances are by far the easiest … just look around you. What’s hot on television? What’s the latest fad? The hardest part about finding a new plot for a contemporary is that most of the current story lines have been done to death.

Because I like to inject humor into my contemporaries, I look for a funny incident to introduce my characters (e.g., a case of mistaken identity) like I did with my holiday novella, Pushing the Limits.

My award-winning romance, Home is Where the Hunk is, was actually based on a true-life event. I interviewed the woman in question and then fashioned her heart-warming, selfless story into a romance.

And, my upcoming time-travel/paranormal, Eye of the Pharaoh, is based solely on my love for ancient Egyptian history and a wonderful trip to the Field Museum in Chicago!

Historical romances are a bit more complicated. While the idea can come from something around you, research is still necessary to make the story fit the time period. Because I’m a child of the 50’s and 60’s, I find the vintage era easy to write and base my stories on actual events from my childhood. I also let the wonderful music inspire me. My upcoming release, Bewitched, is set in 1960’s Chicago around Halloween and encompasses some of my favorite memories.

How about ideas for older historical romances? History books are a wealth of information, of course, but there are other places. When my mother passed away years ago I found a shoebox on a shelf in her bedroom closet. Filled with papers from the 1910’s and 20’s, it literally sang to me with possibilities. 

The box included ration stamps from World War II, a receipt for a car my grandfather purchased in 1924, and a card of pearl buttons that sold for ten cents. Each item, while of no value to anyone but my mother, shouted “write about me”, “tell my story”.

As for my naughtier, erotic romances ... those come straight from my vivid, often over-worked, imagination!

Ideas come from just about any place your mind can take you! Writers out there … unleash your inner muse and keep writing. Readers, please keep reading. You are why we do what we do!

Nancy


Friday, August 12, 2016

Researching a book is fun by Jan Scarbrough

As noted in a May blog, Maddie James and I have been writing buddies for many years. Lately, we’ve collaborated on a contemporary Western series called The Montana Ranchers. Maddie wrote some books, and I wrote others. We worked together on writing the series Prequel.

We recently combined the books into a boxed set that is on sale August 8-22, 2016, for $2.99 only at Kobo.

All sweet to sexy books are included in The Montana McKennas Boxed Set:
  • The Montana McKennas: Prequel, Book 1, by Jan Scarbrough and Maddie James
  • Brody, Book 2, by Jan Scarbrough
  • Callie, Book 3, by Maddie James
  • Parker, Book 4, by Maddie James
  • Mercer, Book 5, by Jan Scarbrough
  • Liz, Book 7, by Jan Scarbrough 
Usually, a romance novel is pure imagination. As I noted in an earlier blog, I do include my emotions and sometimes weave events of my life into my stories. For the Montana series, I did a little Internet research for the setting. I had also researched professional bull riding for an earlier book. But most of the setting and characters were made up.

So when my husband and I began to discuss summer vacation, I suggested Montana. I wanted to see the state where I’d set four books. More Internet research revealed The Covered Wagon Ranch in Gallatin Gateway, Montana. We made reservations and planned our trip. OMG! It was fun—two days on horseback riding into the mountains, gourmet meals prepared by a chef eaten in a rustic dinning room with other friendly “dudes.” The owners, wrangles and staff were just as friendly. We felt like we’d come home.


 On the trip, I got to see firsthand the mountains, canyons, and valleys that make that part of Southwestern Montana so beautiful. Sagebrush is real. And so are lodgepole pine trees and aspens with their silver leaves shimmering in the wind.


So, next time you read a romance novel, think about the fun the authors had doing research as an extension of their very vivid imaginations!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

When Shorter is Sweeter By Kathleen Lawless

When it comes to writing, I'm a sprinter.  I've always written short.  The words spill out of me so fast it's almost shorthand.  I hit save and go back later in a more leisurely fashion to make sure whatever emotions or descriptions I'm depicting are not too skimpy.  For me that's how I write, even a full length novel.  I wrote my first Novella longhand and my hand cramped from trying to keep up with my brain.  That first Novella eventually became a full length book, at great personal angst.  Back then Novellas were not the norm.  But things keep changing in this crazy storytelling business.
These days, I'm once again embracing the Novella.  I've done a few now and it's extremely satisfying to craft a complete story in a smaller package.  I hope readers agree.
This world of our has turned into soundbites and videos and tweets, and it seems people's attention spans are shorter because of it.  For those who want a story they can inhale in one setting, the Novella fits the bill.

Not to be confused with a book report, the Novella is an art form unto itself, featuring fully developed characters with flaws, goals and dreams.  The story has a beginning, a middle, and a happy-ever-after ending once the characters resolve their conflicts. 
I know some writers find the idea of a Novella torturous, but for me it's just another form of storytelling.  One that gives readers even more choice.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Going for the Gold by Karen Kelley

Hi Everyone!
I love when I have a new book releasing, even if it's one of my older books. I still feel the anticipation. What I really love is having complete control over my book. When I sold my first book I thought I would get to be more involved in the process. I was very gullible back then. I was told if I didn't like a cover, just let my editor know. Okay, I did that and was told it was too late to change it. I'm sure not all publishers/editors are like that. Eventually, I didn't say a lot of anything. I think that hurt my career. In anything in life I think you should stand up for what you believe in. Write the books you want to write.

And now I come to my Nerak series. Dating Outside Your DNA is the fourth book in my series. I loved writing Lyraka's story. She's half Earthling/half Nerakian and doesn't feel like she belongs to either race. If you've ever felt out of place then I think you'll relate to Lyraka.

Then of course, I have the very sexy Roan, special forces, who doesn't quite know what he's gotten himself in for when he begins her one on one training.

Dating outside Your DNA is a sexy, funny book. I hope you enjoy it! Click any link to buy now.

Kindle     Kobo     Apple





Special agent Roan Hendrix will train anyone if it’ll get him off injured leave and back on active duty. Besides, Joe says she’s nerakian. Roan figures she’s a warrior. Even though they’ve never actually had a war on their planet, they still train. A week of his time at the most.

Lyraka is more than happy to escapee the confines of her mother’s artist colony to train for the interplanetary elite force, but Joe failed to mention her trainer was obnoxious, stubborn and downright sexy. The solitude of her mother’s colony is starting to look better and better, and a whole lot safer.

Joe failed to explain to Roan that Lyraka is only half nerakian and the other half is earthling, and apparently he didn’t think it was important to mention she’s not a warrior and has in fact lived her life in seclusion. Joe could’ve at least told Roan that her abilities are heightened, rather than lessened, by her mixed blood. Joe also left out the fact she was the most mesmerizing, obstinate woman Roan would ever meet.

How is Roan supposed to train someone as green as Lyraka? Especially when the stakes just went up.
 
Best wishes,
Karen Kelley

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Montana McKennas -- a Great Deal at #Kobo TODAY

Jan Scarbrough and I are offering a special deal to our #Kobo readers for the next two weeks. We are releasing the complete Montana McKennas series in a boxed set, currently listed at Kobo only, and for a really great deal at $2.99 for the next two weeks.

Don't usually buy your books at Kobo? No worries. It's easy to set up an account there and they have this cool Super Points thing where you can get discounts off the books you buy by earning points. Anyway... So don't let that stop you from taking full advantage of this deal.

I'll be honest--Jan and I are undecided if we will offer this set for sale at other retailers. If we do, it will be at retail price, I'm pretty certain. We're going to see how things go after August rolls by. So, I'm saying it COULD be released at other retailers down the road, but right now we have no plans to offer it at this low price again for quite some time. So now's the chance. (Remember, the regular retail price for this set is $8.99)

Not sure what books are included in this set? Well, here you go:

THE MONTANA MCKENNAS BOXED SET

Welcome to McKenna Ranch! Meet Brody, Callie, Mercer and Parker—the four siblings in the clan of James McKenna, a Montana rancher, and their mom/step mom, Liz. Growing up on the ranch was a great life, until Callie and Parker’s mother passed away, leaving James a widower. It wasn’t long, however, before he remarried, bringing Liz into their lives, along with her son, Brody. Soon, James and Liz added a new McKenna to the family, when daughter Mercer was born.

Brothers and sisters are prone to disagreements and this Brady Bunch family of step, half, and full siblings is no exception. As they grew up on the ranch, they learned values that stuck with them throughout their lives—even though they may live apart as adults. But there is one thing that will bring them all back together. Their father’s only wish.

Beginning with a short prequel novella that tells the story of James McKenna and Liz Caldera, and how they came to blend their families, these stories put you on the McKenna Ranch near Yellowstone National Park. This series continues with Jan Scarbrough’s Brody, and with Maddie James’ Callie following, with additional stories that bring all the siblings home to the ranch.

These sweet to sexy stories give you a glimpse into Montana rodeo and ranch life, and of course, provide lots of contemporary cowboy love and romance.

Included in this set: The Montana Ranchers Series

The Montana McKennas: Prequel, Book 1, by Jan Scarbrough and Maddie James
Brody, Book 2, by Jan Scarbrough
Callie, Book 3, by Maddie James
Parker, Book 4, by Maddie James
Mercer, Book 5, by Jan Scarbrough
Liz, Book 7, by Jan Scarbrough

The Montana Heat books written by Maddie James are not included in this set.

Get yours exclusively at KOBO.

Friday, August 5, 2016

...and this is now...



Much has changed since our last-century beginnings in romance-publishing, hasn't it? Indie-pubbing was born--we called it vanity publishing then and it was Very, Very Bad. Historical's been dead, especially Regency, at least once or twice. We've had chick lit, Amish, zombies, and vampires. YA, NA, same sex, and erotica have settled into spots that were made for them within the industry.

That was then, of course, and this is now.

I won't pretend I like all the changes, and I usually do any necessary changing with a whole lot of kicking and screaming, but one thing I have gone with willingly was the appearance of novellas. I mean, there were always novellas, and I used to be so envious of people who got invited to participate in anthologies. I'd buy all the Christmas ones every year. But now there are lots of them. And it doesn't have to be Christmas. And you don't have to be famous to get invited to participate--although it certainly helps.

I write short anyway, one of the things I loved about the Precious Gems line, so novella-length is perfect for me. Last year, when I was invited to join my first boxes set ever, I was so excited I couldn't stand it. It was fun and successful. Then I was invited to join the Heartwarming Christmas boxed set. It hit the USA Today list and I went around shrieking for an entire week, annoying virtually everyone foolish enough to get near me.

So imagine how pleased (and probably annoying--sigh) I was to join the same writers again (plus a few)--we're all Harlequin Heartwarming authors--for 2016's set A Heartwarming Holiday. We hope we make the list again, but if we don't...well, we still hope we make some readers happy. My story is called The Magic Stocking. Look at its cool cover.


The boxed set is available for pre-order now in all the usual places. Oh, here they are--I knew I had that somewhere.



Even better, included in A HEARTWARMING HOLIDAY is an exclusive coupon worth $1.00 off any Heartwarming title from Harlequin.com.  Who doesn't love heartwarming romances?

Liz





Thursday, August 4, 2016

Inspiration

We all know the feeling.  It might come from reading one of those books.  You know, the kind you can't put down except to admire the author's word choices or skill at plotting.  Or from watching a TV show.  Right now, I've been binge watching an older show called Friday Night Lights and wow!  Just wow!  I'm seeing the old familiar chain of events, ie; this happens, which causes this, and then this, which in turn causes this.  I care about the characters and my hat is off to the writers!

As for me, I'm on deadline.  As usual.  And summer in Texas beats me down.  Especially August. Our forecast this week is every single day above 100.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Heat index today is 106. Arrgh. It's hard for me to exercise, never mind think.  All I want to do is curl up in the air conditioning and sleep.  Sad, but true.  I've always been a cool weather type of gal.

So to keep going, I have to find my inspiration somewhere.  Music helps a lot - I tend to make playlists for each book and listen over and over as I write.  Reading in another genre helps too.  I'm currently reading a lovely Young Adult book that one a Rita for Best First Book.  It's enjoyable, not in the same genre as my contracted books (though I want to write one someday,) and fun.

Normally (as in, when it's not summer), I'd also find inspiration in Nature.  Now, the only time I can stand staying outside for any length of time is in the early morning, after the sun rises but before it gets high enough to illuminate my entire back yard in heat.  I yearn for the fall, when I can sit in my backyard swing and write to the sound of birdsong, but that's months away.  (In Texas, autumn doesn't even think about making an appearance until mid-to-late October.)

But inspiration is a funny thing.  Sometimes, it strikes when one least expects it.  I love when that happens.  I've been puzzling over a plot point on my work-in-progress and last night as I was feeding my dogs, it came to me.  A gift from the summer gods!

And that my friends, is when I know I'm going to survive the heat and keep writing.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

LOVE IN THE GOLDEN YEARS by Hannah Rowan


Last month we learned that Mick Jagger, at the age of 73, is about to become a father for the eighth time.

And we heard a collective “eeeeuuuuwwww” across cyberspace.

Say we forget that the baby-mama is younger than four of Jagger’s other children.  Say we just focus on Daddy’s age here.

(Clearly he’s not going to have a child with someone his own age.  And it’s a good guess this wasn’t a planned event.  And love…?  Maybe not here.)

What if we think about people Jagger’s age falling in love? Or even people a decade or two younger?  Does that also elicit a collective “eeeeuuuwwww”?

It very well may.

In this age when every sexual and gender permutation is celebrated, perhaps the last taboo is love in the sunset years.

At my day job in an assisted living facility, I see romance happening all the time.  Widows and widowers in their eighties and nineties holding hands, and sometimes more than that.   

The urge to have a life-partner never seems to subside.  Or maybe the urge for just a harmless bit of flirtation.

Once upon a time a few publishing houses tried to publish books aimed at a population older than your average romance hero and heroine.  “Second Chance at Love” was a line published for a very brief time by Berkeley.  The line folded fairly quickly, and those heroes and heroines were in…gasp…their forties most of the time.  Too old?  Nobody wants to think about people the age of their parents falling in love, never mind actually having sex.

But as the Baby Boom generation reaches those exalted numbers, is it possible this will change?

According to statistics published on Romance Writers of America’s website, the average age of romance readers is between thirty-four and fifty.  And I’d venture a guess that aside from characters such as Stephanie Plum’s Grandma Mazur, “dirty old ladies” who provide a bit of levity, nobody that age wants to hear about Granny (or Gramps) having a hot time.

Recently Huffington Post highlighted photos by Jade Beall, a photographer based in Tuscon, Arizona--portraits of a couple who have been together for over 20 years. In the photos, Gerry (75) and Darwin (70) are shown in all their naked glory, quite happily embracing and with their love for each other clearly evident from their facial expressions.

Not rock stars trying to hang on to their youths by cavorting with people young enough to be their grandchildren, but just regular people living their lives, pretty much the way our we want our heroes and heroines to do.

Will this catch on, do you suppose?  Will the romance genre change to acommodate the Boomers? With young adult and new adult novels the hottest new trend in romance, is there room in the romance community for people to have a second or even third chance to fall in love?

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