Wednesday, August 17, 2011

HOT giveaway from Too Hot To Touch author Louisa Edwards

I'm thrilled to introduce author Louisa Edwards and her guest post on writing what you know. Being a foodie, I love Louisa's steamy and sizzling culinary romances. Read on to learn more about her new trilogy, writing, and maybe winning the first book: Too Hot To Touch.

Thank you to Rashda and the Romance Magicians for having me! I see some familiar names on your member roster—cough, Jenn Echols, cough—so I know I’m in for a warm welcome and a rockin’ good time.

Since we’re all writers here, I thought I’d take the opportunity today to explore one of the most often-repeated pieces of writing advice:

Write what you know.

Sounds good, right? I mean, if you write what you know, there probably won’t be a lot of that tedious, difficult research—your own life experiences can fill in the blanks and add a realism to your story that no amount of flipping through dusty books (or scrolling through Wikipedia) can match. And of course, your intimate connection to the bits of the story that are ripped from your own life can only help to breathe life into the characters. Your books should be personal.

All of that is true. But it also conceals a trap that I discovered the hard way…by falling into it.

I’m a firm believer in the importance of writing what you love; every book should be the book of your heart—but as I discovered in writing (and rewriting) my latest contemporary romance release, Too Hot to Touch, it’s possible to take that too far.

When I began writing Too Hot to Touch, I had a very definite idea of where I wanted to go with it. Yes, I knew it was the first book in a trilogy following a team of talented chefs through the trials and challenges of a high-stakes culinary competition, and falling in love along the way. But I also knew that I wanted the heroine to have a particular dark secret in her past, one that is intensely personal and close to my heart.

Too close, as it turned out. For months, I wrote and revised and tore my hair out over my efforts to shoehorn this personal event into my heroine’s backstory. It took precious weeks and even a few tears before I was able to admit that this wasn’t the right story to address my issue—and that, quite possibly, I wasn’t ready to write that story yet.

Once I took a step back, I could see what the story actually needed, who my heroine actually was, rather than who I’d tried so desperately to turn her into (ahem, me.) After that, Too Hot to Touch came together in a shower of sparks, sexual chemistry, kitchen chaos, and emotional family relationships. The Jules Cavanaugh you’ll meet in the book is very much her own woman, a sharp, ambitious, loyal professional with complicated mother issues, enormous talent as a chef, and a raging crush on the black sheep son of the family whose restaurant she helps run.

Are there still elements of me in Jules? Of course; there are bits and pieces of me scattered through all of my characters. But she’s not me—and making her less personal allowed her to take shape as a full, three-dimensional character with her own voice, her own passions, and her own life.

I’m proud of Jules, and I don’t regret the journey I took with her. Because now I’ve learned an important lesson I can share with all of you:

Write what you know. Don’t be afraid to make it personal…but don’t force it. A great novel isn’t a chance for you to work through your own angst. Sometimes it happens incidentally, which can be powerful and wonderful—but if you go into the writing process with that as your main focus, you’ll be blind to the possibilities of the story you’re telling.

If you want to see how Jules and her team turned out (and try to guess which aspects of them are pieces of me) comment below for a chance to win a signed copy of Too Hot to Touch! Which of your characters is the most like you?


Lisa Dunick said...

I'm so excited about this post! When I read Louisa's first book, I fell in love. My bro's a chef who went to the CIA and I sometimes aspire to be a foodie. So I can't wait to get my hands on the new series!

As for who is most like me? That's a hard one. I think the mom in my current book that's on submission right now is the mom I'd want to be, but there's no doubt that my MC uses some of the phrases that I use. I'm not sure what that means, considering that she's only 17 and I'm inching through my 30s though :O)

Chris Bailey said...

In some sense, every character is like me, because even what I can imagine into a character is bound by my perspective. After much frustration, I have redefined write what you know, as you have. I'm calling it "write what you know in your heart is true." And be ready to look up the stuff you can't possibly know.

Louisa Edwards said...

Lisa - Hey girl! Hope you enjoy the new trilogy even more than the last one...

Chris - I really like your rewording of Write What You Know...that's good stuff.

Micki Gibson said...

Louisa, I'm really looking forward to Too Hot To Touch. I loved your other trilogy, so THTT can't come out soon enough.

Which of my character's is most like me? Like Chris said, there's a bit of me in all of my characters. Some characters are who I wish I'd been. Some say things to other characters that if I were a teen, I could totally get by with saying, but as a "mature-ish" 40 something who doesn't want to tick off the in-laws, I keep my mouth shut. My heroines (teen) have a lot more gumption than I did. Which is why they get the guy at the end and I had to wait until college to get mine. :-)

Heather said...

The new trilogy sounds great. I need to add the first trilogy to my must read list asap (I have a weird obsession of reading all authors books in order - crazy, I know, but if OCD has to manifest it someplace, reading isn't a bad one for it to happen).

To echo Lisa's sentiment, a lot of my characters have the traits I would love to exhibit. A few lines of dialogue may be the things I wish I had said at the perfect time, but only thought of them hours (days/weeks/years) later.

Cari Hislop said...

Don't feel you have to include me on the book contest list as I live outside the US, but thanks for your lovely post! It was just what I needed.

I'm trying to finish a book I've been trying to finish for several years (it keeps getting longer) but it's only recently that I've started to really feel the heroine's voice. I've always been able to hear her, but I hadn't yet stepped into her soul. I write Regencies; the heroine is a romance writer who's spent eighteen years writing stories and day dreaming about this one man she fell in love with (who was married at the time, but is now a widower). I can't believe it's taken me three years to understand my heroine, but I'm getting there. After reading your post I think I've had this subconscious expectation of who she ought to be, but she's someone else.
I think I may have to write one of her stories as a second epilogue and really let her sing.

Good luck with your new trilogy!

Carla Swafford said...

Oh, my, love that cover. Nothing sexier than a man who cooks and cooks well.

Goodness, I tried to think if there is anything of me in Olivia (CIRCLE OF DESIRE, coming 10/18/11 from Avon Impulse). She has little morals and had horrible childhood. Only thing in common is that we're both women.

Of my other unpublished stuff, I would say Molly in A SHERIFF TO CALL HER OWN. She's has a family from hell but she still loves them and is loyal to the bone.

Kelly-Writer Girl said...

As the mom of a chef at the CIA, this is awesome! As I looked back at my work, I almost forgot that I actually wrote about a writer with a bit of baggage in her life- that's me!

Louisa Edwards said...

Micki - TOO HOT TO TOUCH is already out! It's at B&N and Krogers, and of course available online at Amazon. : )

Heather - I know what you mean. I prefer to read books in order, too, and mine ARE connected. But each definitely stands alone!

Cari - I'm so glad if this post rang true for you, and gave you a little insight into why you've been struggling. Good luck with your writing!

Carla - Thanks--I love my cover, too. Nom!

Kelly - How cool! In another life, I'd love to go to the CIA. I've toured it for research; what a fabulous place.

April Cox said...

I have read the other books in this series and am currently reading Just One Taste. I love the hot Chef theme!

My favorite character out of your books is Lilah (Lolly). She tells it like it is and doesn't think twice about it. She's a good ole southern girl like me!

summer said...

Being a foodie and a long-time romance novel reader this sounds like something I should definitely read!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great book and a great series. I personally get frustrated with that phrase "write what you know". I think I don't know anything lol. At least nothing that I could put in a story although my sister may find a spot either as a dead body or a character just like her ugh. I did tell her one time when I was writing a fan fiction of Lord of the Rings and she kept bugging me about if she was in the story I told her ok you can be the bossy big sister. Turns out I hit the nail on the head even if she is younger than me she acts like she is older and I'm one of her children that is a brain dead person or something.

Kathy Crouch

Monikarw said...

I love your books!:)
being following u in this book tour trying to get it let's see if I can have some magic today!

Monikarw said...

oops! forgot my mail: monika_restivow(at)yahoo(dot)com

Rashda Khan said...

WooHoo! Carla Swafford is the winner of Too Hot To Touch! Congrats!

Carla Swafford said...

YEAH!!! A couple of my buddies at work was talking about Louisa's books and how much they love them. So I can't wait!!

Thanks, Lousia and Rashda!

Pat L. said...

Love the hunk on the cover and love this series.

Pat L. said...

forgot my email.
patoct at yahoo dot com.