Sunday, March 31, 2013

A big shout out to the winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence!

The Tarnished Jewel of Jazaar by Susanna Carr

Take Me Home by Nancy Herkness

Sweet Deception by Heather Snow

A Dream of His Own by Gail Gaymer Martin

Angel of the Cove by Sandra Robbins

Saving the Rifleman by Julie Rowe

A Hint of Frost by Hailey Edwards

Cowboy in the Crossfire by Robin Perini

The Spy Wore Spurs by Dana Marton

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Thanks again to all the authors who submitted their books to the contest, and to all the romance-loving judges who read for us! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Wolverine and Japan

This summer, there will be a new Wolverine movie out, and it will be set in Japan. So brush up on your manners and be prepared!

Looks awesome! And the trailer too.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Few Reasons I Love Romance

When I sat down to write this month’s blog, I decided to talk about why I read and write romance. My trusty thesaurus happened to be open to the letter ‘e,’ so I thought, why not? I'll make a list of
e-reasons. Here for your . . . er . . . elucidation is my list:

1. Ebullience—Nothing like a sparkling historical romance or romantic comedy to cheer and elate you.

2. Eclectic—Romance encompasses everything from the inspirational to the erotic. There’s a romance for everyone!

3. Eclipse—If I’m having a bad day, or even a simplymeh day, a good romance eclipses the blues.  

4. Economics—A romance novel is a gloriously inexpensive vacation to foreign lands, other worlds, posh resorts, adventure, and exotic places. Escape between the pages of a good book. It’s cheap entertainment.

5. Ecstasy—Bet you thought I was going to talk about sex, didn’t you? And I am. Nothing like a well-written love scene to make you sigh. And then there’s the ecstasy of a wonderfully well-written story that moves you and transports you beyond yourself.

6. Edification—Don’t know the difference between a barouche and a chaise? Read a Regency romance. Ever wonder how to kill someone with a rolled-up paper napkin? Crack open a romantic suspense. Want your stories in the here and now? Contemporary romance is for you.  Or, if you like magic and woo woo, love to read or write the uncanny or the supernatural, are passionate about the weird and strange then perhaps you'd like to . . . 

7. Eerie—Get swept up in a paranormal romance.

8. Effect—Change of circumstances. Change in relationship. Change of mind and heart. Internal change. External change. Personal change. Romance is about  CHANGE.

9. √Član—Romance writers approach their craft with flair, a love of the craft and storytelling that is contagious. Romance readers are simply the best. Their enthusiasm for the genre is what’s made it so popular and enduring.

10. Element—No matter the subgenre, all romances have one very important thing in common: Love. Vive de l'amour!

11. Elevation—Romance proudly celebrates the transformative power of love. Romance celebrates the ideal, and gives us something to hope and strive for.

12. Elimination—A good romance eliminates the doldrums and annihilates negativity. Hard to be a Debbie Downer when you’re safely ensconced in a good book. And the good guys always win. Lots of satisfaction in eliminating those pesky villains.

13. Emotion—No matter which “flavor” of romance you prefer, it’s all about the emotion. Emotion is what pulls us into a story and keeps us rooting for the hero and heroine. Emotion, in my opinion, is what makes a sex scene sexy.

14. Empowerment—Romance explores the push-me, pull-me of relationships, and the power struggle between humans.

15. Encouragement and escape—A good romance buoys my spirits and takes me away from the day job.

16. Endings—A romance, by definition, always has a happy ending. Yay! I love that.

17. Excitement—That breathless little surge of anticipation and sheer joy you feel when starting a new romance, whether it’s written by one of your tried and true favorite authors or someone new. It’s exciting to lose yourself in a good book.

18. Expectations—Romance won’t let you down. It will meet and satisfy your expectations. What could be better than a good story with a happy ending?
What puts the 'e' in romance for you?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Concentrating on Your ... Squirrel!

You know some days it pays to be a little ADHD when you’re an author. Sure I have problems concentrating, and I struggle with finishing a book in a reasonable length of time, but I manage. Having a parent drill into me about the importance of obligations has helped tremendously in hitting deadlines.

In my current book, I had hit a stump. Certain that the book had become boring and was going nowhere, I began to panic. Normally, I’d kill someone or blow something up, but this is a new series. Sure it’s romantic suspense, yet it screamed for a more gentle touch. When you get to read it, you’ll laugh about that last sentence. Then again, what I think is gentle, others would say is The GeorgiaCyclone®.  With just as many twists and turns.

Well, the other day I’m eating lunch and reading a book (paranormal romance) as many of us do, when an idea struck me. It helped me decide who the bad guy would be along with his motives. No. Sorry, can’t tell you the details.

The part I want to explain is how reading while you’re writing can be helpful. We all become worried about picking up details from a book and giving your own book the stink of plagiarism. That’s not what I’m talking about. The idea that came to mind had nothing to do with what was going on in the book I was reading.

The scene in the other author's book was where the heroine helped the hero infiltrate a well protected facility. That was it. Danger and tension flowed from the book, but it never indicated who the bad guy (or gal) was at this point in her book. But my mind had drifted a little and it sparked the idea I needed.

I was telling my daughter about it and explained it like this, “It’s like being in school while listening to your favorite teacher as she tells you about something you really want to know. A few seconds later you find yourself captivated by the fluttering butterflies outside the window.” The teacher may have said “light as a feather,” and before you know it, you’re thinking about flying and you turn to the window to look for some birds, but get caught up with watching butterflies.

So reading to me helps free my mind to solve problems in my books, even when I don't know I have one. In this case, one stone equals two birds. It took care of the boring section of my new book and gave me an unexpected bad guy.

Do you read when you’re writing? Or tell me the last time you were stuck and how you came up with the great idea that got your creative juices to flowing again. 

And for the fans of Dug in UP...Squirrel!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake !!

In my DDJ (Dreaded Day Job) I manage a bakery for the local Walmart. Which means outside of work hours I would rather shave my legs with Gauge 10 Sandpaper than bake, decorate or get anywhere near a cake. Just thinking about it makes my shoulders twitch as if a fire-breathing Bridezilla is behind me screaming “I wanted rose pink not pink rose!” Contemplate that particular conundrum atop a camouflage wedding cake. I’ll wait while you wash out your eyes on that one. 


As I do, however, love to eat cake (Many of you have seen me. Do I LOOK as if I don’t like to eat cake? I thought not!) it is indeed fortunate my Mom loves to bake cakes. From scratch. From old family recipes. And from the cake sections of her over 500 cookbooks. She collects them. Cookbooks, that is. Even without a cookbook you give this tiny little Native American woman some flour, eggs, butter, sugar and milk and the contents of her pantry and she can come up with a cake that has my nephew’s college roommates engaging in a gladiator tournament that would do Spartacus proud for the last piece.


Writing a romance novel is a lot like baking a cake. The basic ingredients are sort of the same – a hero, a heroine, some conflict, some sex, a setting, some secondary characters – mix the ingredients, pour into a pan, cook, put some finishing touches on it and VOILA!  a feast for the reader.  Or is it? Sometimes it’s just cake. And you really don’t want just cake. As a reader or a writer you want more.

In a recent online conversation several writers were discussing their favorite romance novel tropes – marriage of convenience, opposites attract, friends to lovers, secret admirer, etc. The consensus was with a limited number of romance tropes many of them have been completely and utterly overdone. And almost every romance novel can be reduced to one of these romance tropes – kind of like chocolate cake, vanilla cake, yellow cake …. Darn! Made myself hungry and break out in hives at the same time. 

With that being said, what makes a book a one-of-a-kind experience? What takes a basic romance trope – a story that has been told over and over again, sometimes for hundreds of years – and makes it the sort of thing a reader simply cannot put down until they have eaten the entire cake?  How does a writer create something the reader wants to try again and again in spite of the familiarity of those basic ingredients?