Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tuesday's Inspiration - More on the Writer's Mind


Once again, today we look at more of things that might configure the writer's mind. Reading On Becoming A Novelist by John Gardner is fun and sometimes makes me laugh. So I'll address three more things that might color the writer's way of looking at the world. The good thing is that one doesn't have them all just enough to make those strange connections a writer can discover.

Churlishness. Really liked this one and often makes me think of the song from Porgy and Bess - It Ain't Necessarily So. This ability is one where the writer sees things the average people believes are true and says maybe not. There would never be stories about vampires, time travel and magic if some writer didn't say. I find this a possibility.

Childishness - Playing with ideas, not concentrating on what other people do.  There seems to be a lack of mental focus as the writer explores new ideas. Other people work 9 to 5. A writer with this trait writes when the spirit strikes.

This next one really makes me laugh and actually hits most of us. A tendency to daydream and tell pointless lies. I have a good friend who says this is how her mother categorized her. I believe there was a book on writing titled How To Tell Lies For Fun and Profit. Something like that. Who says the fantasies we've created as writers couldn't be true in some other universe. Or the lies be truth as well.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters


Meander 1 Most people are making resolutions for the new year that's on the horizon. I don't make resolutions since to make them is to break them. What I do is set goals and ones I believe I can accomplish during the time. My first goal is to complete Melodic Dreams and also Priest of Toth. Doing that means I'll put four books up for sale. Anything else I complete during this time is gravy and I do like gravy.

Meander 2 Looking back on the past year has seen a number of books put out for people to read. When I looked at the list I amazed myself. Some of them were re-issues but some were new. Here goes. Re-issues Nurse Karen Comes Home, Moon Summoned, Healwoman. All new Shattered Dreams, Rekindled Dreams, Lines of Fire, The Mocro-manager's Murder and A Spicy Seduction.
That is an amazing number but of course some of the books were completed in 2012 so though it looks like I'm revving on all wheels I'm not.

Meander 3 Work is moving ahead on Melodic Dreams and the story has taken a few twists as usual. The end hasn't changed just the way of reaching that point. This story brings in some things that are personal. Years ago I composed music and have lost all the scores somewhere in the mists of time. I did hear several of them performed in public and that was a hoot. So I sort of know what my hero  in this story feels. The other is my daughter, an OT is helping me with those parts of the story. That also is fun.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday's Excerpt from Bella Lucia By Joanne Troppello


Joanne Troppello is an author of romantic suspense novels.  She has published three books: Shadowed Remembrances, Mr. Shipley’s Governess and Bella Lucia. Currently, she is working on her new writing project, The Paradise Redeemed Series. Joanne is married and loves spending time with her husband and family. She enjoys interacting with readers at The Mustard Seed Blog.

 

Author Contact Links




 

About Bella Lucia:

 

Have you ever been in love—you know, the infuriating kind—where you want to be around this person all the time and yet at other times, this person drives you nuts! Yes, you know what I mean.

 

Well that’s where Detective Marc Abrams finds himself. He is insanely attracted to U.S. Marshall Sam Collins, but she doesn’t seem too interested in him. So what’s a guy to do? Solve a murder for one! And maybe even hook up with the sexy and spirited marshall. Who knows what will happen when these two collide and join forces! You can meet these exciting characters in my newest romantic suspense novel, Bella Lucia.

 



 

Excerpt from Bella Lucia:

 

Reaching into his pocket, he frantically searched for change to finish paying for his coffee. Lint and candy wrappers mixed with the quarters he found. He must not let this woman get away. Ever since he’d met her, she’d ruled his thoughts. He rushed past the line of customers and caught up with Sam. “I thought you’d left me.”

 

“You’re like a fungus—easy to get and hard to get rid of.”

 

He followed her as she headed down the sidewalk. “Wow, if your words weren’t so insulting, I’d be impressed.”

 

“So, was there some actual reason you needed to speak to me, or do you always get your morning coffee here?”

 

“No, I simply wanted to see you.”

 

“Couldn’t you at least pretend you needed to discuss the case or something?”

 

Her words surprised him. “What? I thought women wanted straight talk from men, unless I’ve been reading the wrong playbook.”

 

She laughed. The musical sound of it made him smile. “We do, but if you’re after a colleague, straight talk isn’t going to cut it, at least not yet. We don’t know each other well enough.”

 
Sam picked up speed and crossed the street at the corner. Man, she walks fast. Or maybe she truly is trying to get away from me. Either way, Marc didn’t care. He wanted to spend as much time with her as he could. He wondered whether she spoke truthfully or not—perhaps women did play by different rules when amongst colleagues. He opted to follow her lead. “I met with the couple who witnessed the body dump.” She stopped midstride. Now he had her attention. This is a good method, if it’ll get her to look at me.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday's How She Does It featuring Joanne Tropello


We all know there are six elements of fiction. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is plot. What's your take on this?  For my books, I usually start out with a vague idea of a plot and then come back to the characters—who they are, what do they look like, fleshing out the drama to the story—then I begin working on the setting and start developing the full plot line as I begin writing.

 

 

1.      How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method? I combine what I know from experience with my imagination and come up with the inspiration for my characters. I’m a people watcher and have a good sense of the different personality traits. This has helped me when creating my characters. I usually sketch out a bit more completely my characters’ descriptions etc. than the plot line.

 

 

 

2. Do your characters come before the plot? For me an interesting plot is key, but my characters are a bit more important to me. I love “getting to know” my characters and letting them speak to me as they tell their story.  

 

 

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?  I usually brainstorm and do a basic plot line for each book. However, as the story starts moving along, there are times when I deviate from that plan because that’s where the inspiration is taking me.

   

 

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around? It depends. For some of my books, the settings were local to where I live. Two of my other books took place in different locations. One took place in Europe and I needed to do research to make sure I had everything correct. The other took place in Hawaii and my husband and I went there on our honeymoon so I got first-hand experience with that location.

 

 

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books? I do some of my research from books and some online. When I first began writing, the age of the Internet was only beginning so I visited the library and also had a good collection of research books on hand. Once I progressed further in my career, I started using the Internet more for research.

 

 

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end? I write the first draft without editing. If I started editing right away, I think I’d get discouraged and never finish a book. Once the first draft is completed, I leave it alone for a bit and then come back with fresh eyes for the first round of edits. The plot line is vaguely sketched out, but the characters lead me the rest of the way.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scenes - Moon Summoned by Janet Lane Walters


Since this book is on sale, I thought I'd do some of the opening scenes from each of the heroines of Moon Summoned during the next few weeks. Though the sale will end in about 4 days. Right now it's $0.99 but will go up to $1.99 in two days.
 
A moan of pleasure escaped the lips of the woman named Ashiera. As Sieper
found his release, his arms tightened around her. He rolled to his side and held her against
his chest. His lips brushed her honey-colored hair. He inhaled the fragrance of the herbs
she used as a rinse. As always, her amber eyes were devoid of expression.
 
Sunshine streamed through the windows of the sleeping chamber, clothing them
in colored light. Chips of multi-hued crystals embedded in the headboard of the massive
bed splashed bright tints on the sheets.
 
He stroked her smooth skin. “The Cabal and his mind mages named you as an
undead. Thus I claimed you as my reward for their use of my ship for their cargoes.” His
jaw clenched for the service hadn’t been a willing gift but one demanded. No man of
Keltoi dared to refuse the orders of the priests of the Lord of Shadows.
 
She pressed her lips against his chest. For years, he’d carried her image in his
heart, but he’d never believed she would be his for more than the single night they’d once
shared. Since then, his life had changed again and again. From deck hand to officer and
then to ship owner.
 
He thought of the day he and the Wind Skimmer had sailed into Zandara. The
holds had been filled with exotic goods from the other nomes and, he’d had hopes of
enough profit to outfit a second ship. Alas, those dreams had come to naught. The priests
had seized control of Keltoi. Since the defeat of the Mistress, the gray robes and their
minions had ruled the nome. Their taxes had eaten most of his profits and for nearly
thirteen years he’d sailed at their bidding.
 
His hands curled into fists. “I’ve worked hard and dreamed of a fleet of ships, but
these hopes slip further from my grasp.” He stared into Ashiera’s empty amber eyes.
 
“Why do I tell you these things? Do you even hear me?”
 
For an instant, he thought he saw a flicker of awareness in her eyes. A foolish
thought. Under the Cabal’s torture, her mind had fled.
 
Gently he stroked her face and traced her lips. Nineteen years ago she’d been his
for a night. He’d been the one she’d chosen for her passage from maiden to woman. Their
joining, hot and urgent, had created a dream of forever with her.
 
He caressed her breasts. Her nipples tightened and she moved against him.

Though her mind had fled, her body remembered the ways of passion. He wanted to hear
his name on her lips, but since the day he’d claimed her from the pens, she hadn’t spoken.

He kissed her. Regret that he’d begun what there wasn’t time to finish filled his
voice. “My love, we must leave soon. The Wind Skimmer sails on the evening tide. Until
I return you will bide with Maran’s wife.” He pulled her to her feet. “Remember, you are
mine.”
Was that a flash of denial he saw in her eyes? Her forehead wrinkled and she
opened her mouth. A croaking sound emerged. He waited. Would she speak?

After long moments of silence, he walked with her to the bathing room where a
glass dome filled the room with light and heated the pool. Like a child, she played in the
water, but she uttered no happy sounds, not did the placid expression on her beautiful
face change.

He dressed her in a shimmering spidersilk gown. The iridescent fabric reminded
him of the gown she’d worn the night she’d walked in the garden of the Mistress and had
taken his hand. He pulled on trousers and a shirt that laced at the sides.
“Come, we must eat.” With his hand at her waist, he steered her to the garden
room.

A wall of glass bricks let in light and distorted the lush growth outside. The table,
set for two, stood near the wide door leading into the yard. A maid checked the clothes
hanging on the line. Her spouse leaned against the wall and watched her work. In these
days, no woman walked through town unguarded lest she be taken by the priests. Even in
their homes, there was little safety if a priest wanted new women for the pens.
“Ashiera,” Sieper whispered.

She stared. “Who is Ashiera?”

“You are and you are mine.”
As though a black curtain had been torn, her expression changed. “No.” She
backed away.
He went to her. “What do you remember?”

Her eyes reflected myriad emotions. “Dying, yet I live. Heated winds searing my
head. Falling into darkness. I am Ashiera, but I don’t remember taking vows with you.”

“Much has changed in Keltoi. The Lord of Shadows has placed his shroud over
the people. The Mistress and her servants are gone.”

“Gone! Who protects the land and makes sure the seasons follow their proper
courses?” She bowed her head. “Once I sat on the seat of judgment. Once I knew the lore
and the legends. I solved disputes and made prophecies for those who asked for sight.”
He caressed her shoulders in an attempt to leach the tension from her taut
muscles. “Those days are no more.”

She looked up. “All is gone.”

His thumbs brushed her cheeks. “Alas, ‘tis the truth. Since you are now aware, I
can’t leave you in Zandara. You must come with me, for you are mine.”
His words frightened her. She couldn’t be a prisoner. Though his blue-green eyes
were kind, she couldn’t sail with him. There was a place she must find and she couldn’t
let anyone stop her. Yet, she wished she could remain with him.

She touched his face and explored the rugged features. She ran her hands through
the honey-hued hair that brushed his broad shoulders. He was a man she could love
forever, but the compulsion to flee his tender care grew unbearable. Her muscles tensed
for flight.
 

 
 
 
His arms closed around her like a cage. “Sail with me.”

She struggled to free herself from his embrace. She couldn’t. She had to leave.

A voice sounded in her head. Come! Now!
Ashiera grabbed a heavy crystal salt cellar and smashed it against his head. He
staggered and fell, pulling her atop him. Until she caught her breath, she listened to the
steady beat of his heart. He groaned. She jumped to her feet. As she raced across the
garden to the gate, she pulled clothes from the line.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Holiday Greetings and Thanks from Janet Lane Walters


Wednesday usually finds a Writer's Tip but not today. Wishing everyone great holidays and a coming new year filled with good things.

I'd like to thank all those of the many teams on Triberr who send my blogs into the stratosphere for others to see. I send on as many as appear in my stream. Sometimes I wonder if I'm capturing them all. No matter, thank you all and I will continue to pass them along as well.

There is a light skim of snow on the ground this morning. Just enough to cover the brown grass and make the walks appear white. The lights are on the Christmas tree, not the mantle yet. That will wait until closer to the time when family arrives for a meal.

So once again, thanks to those who pass my blogs along.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday's Writer's Inspiration - The Writer's Mind


When I read this segment of On Becoming A Novelist by John Gardner, I laughed. I'll put in just a few of the things he said about the elements that make a writer partway between madness and sanity.
I also had a friend who was a psychologist do a test on me and then analyze it. He came to the conclusion that I was both sane and mad at the same time. We laughed a lot about the results of the test.

So here goes, "The writer's intelligence is partly natural and partly trained composed of several qualities, in normal people are signs of immaturity or incivility." There is a long list of qualities that writers often possess. Now you don't have to have them all but you may recognize a few of them. In the next few weeks I'll try to hit most of them. Hope they make you feel amused and realize you have most or all of them.

"Wit - a tendency to make irreverent connections." Perhaps you have this quality and realize that in your head 2 and 2 do not make 4 but make a variety of scenarios that make your reader want to read more. If one were to take four people and put them together, think of the strange possibilities for a story you could find. Another variation is 1 plus 1 plus one. Imagine the many kinds of triangles you can find.

Stubbornness. How many times do you hear that just won't work but by casting words on paper, you find a way. That scene doesn't work, so you tear it apart and try again. To be a writer you have to be stubborn to the max.

There are many more so until next week think about these qualities and see how many you possess or can train yourself to have so you will delight, horrify, mystify and let your readers see all the facets of human nature no matter what way your stories turn.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Meandering on Monday with Janet Lane Walters #freebook


Meander 1 Today and tomorrow Rekindled Dreams    is free at Amazon. The book has remained high on medical romances and went as low as 510 on the leading free book list. Hopefully it will climb higher.

Meander 2 I know alright is accepted but there is something that happens to me every time I see alright rather than all right. I am pulled out of the story for an instant. Perhaps this is because I'm old. Not sure. Guess some changes bother me. Changes abound in life and in fiction. Perhaps I will one day stop re-writing the word and allow the fiction to flow when I'm reading.

Meander 3 As to my writing schedule. Working on Melodic Dreams and the story is moving ahead. I'm doing the second draft where I try to fix all the leaps in time I've made. Sometimes they're not leaps but condensations and I find I have rough drafted in such a way that the time line is off. I imagine for me this is the plot draft where I attempt to have the action flow to the end without a seam being seen. Then it will be on to the Character and Setting Drafts where I tweak those areas and finally to the Language Draft. That's how can I make this more vivid and what are the right verbs and nouns and do I need those adjectives and adverbs. Sounds like this will take forever but not really because the last few drafts are seldom re-writes. So now it's to work.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Saturday's Excerpt from Making Over Maris by Sabrina York




Sabrina York

 

Wired, Book Three

When ├╝ber-nerd Jack asks Sara to make him more attractive to women, she can’t say no—even though it’s an impossible task. He’s shaggy and doughy and hopelessly inappropriate. He has no style or emotional intelligence but he’s a good person. And a great friend. What Sara never expects? Beneath all that fur and geekiness is a steamy hunk just waiting to emerge.

Jack takes Sara’s regimen very seriously, working out and losing weight until he feels like a new man. He even complies with her command to shave his beard—because Jack didn’t ask Sara to make him over so he would be attractive to other women. He only wants to be attractive to her. They go on a series of fake dates, each hotter and more sinful than the last. It’s not long before Sara discovers Jack’s secret desire to be dominated and what began as an arrangement becomes something amazing—something that could be real.


 

An Excerpt From: MAKING OVER MARIS

Copyright © SABRINA YORK, 2013

All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

“So… Have you thought about it?” Jack could have kicked himself. He hadn’t intended to burst into her office and blurt it out like that. He’d meant to be suave and slick.

He should have known better.

He’d never been suave and slick.

No. He’d hovered in the vicinity of Sara’s office—after sending Kenny on a meaningless errand—and barged through the door and pounced upon her as soon as Kat left.

“Sit, Jack.”

He plopped into the chair and, because he didn’t know what to do with his hands, laced his fingers.

Sara studied him, dissecting him in that way she had, with her head tipped to the side, wrinkling her button nose. She was so cute when she wrinkled her nose. He forced himself not to wriggle. His body didn’t listen. Something about her eyes, her lips, her scent, always stirred him.

He shouldn’t have this kind of reaction to her. In the office. Everywhere. But he couldn’t help it. He just did. Always.

When she looked at him like that, when she spoke to him in that clear, commanding voice, it was even worse.

Or better, depending on one’s perspective.

She cleared her throat. “Okay. I’ve thought about it.”

His pulse jerked. “And…?”

She dropped her attention to her blotter and meticulously rearranged several deformed paper clips. His heart pounded a painful tattoo as he waited for her response. “And…” She met his eyes—God, she was gorgeous. “If I do this, we need to have an understanding.”

Relief, or something like it, trickled through him. An understanding was awfully close to an agreement. A promise. “Okay.”

Sara sucked in a breath. “First of all, we need to agree this is an impossible task.”

“Not impossible,” he grumbled. Surely not impossible.

“Okay. Improbable then. My chances of success are…dismal.”

Dismal? Jack’s belly dropped. He fiddled with the wiry hairs on the back of his neck. He didn’t like the way this was going. It was depressing that she thought so poorly of him. “Am I that hideous?”

Her eyes widened. A flush rose on her cheeks. “Oh my God, Jack. No. I didn’t mean it that way.”

“It sounded that way.”

“Jack…” She rubbed her hands over her face. “Okay. How about this? We have a long way to go. Can we agree on that?”

“Sure.” He knew he was pouting. But he had a damn good excuse. She’d pretty much come out and said making him attractive to women—to her in particular—was a hopeless cause.

“My worry is this. I can teach you all the right things to say and coach you on how to act around women, prescribe a diet and exercise plan and even give you a makeover. But if you don’t listen to me—if you don’t follow the plan—I fail.”

“I’ll listen. I’ll follow the plan.” Hell. He’d follow her anywhere she wanted to lead. If she only knew…

Something fierce stirred in her eyes. “It’s not going to be easy, Jack. I’m gonna work you.” Why he shivered at the tone in her voice, he had no clue. Or maybe he did. “I want you to agree to honor our contract—even if you drop the ball.”

“Of course.” He always kept his promises.

“You swear?”

He put a hand over his heart. “I swear.”

She sat back. The fire in her eyes flickered and sputtered out. “Okay. So next week I’m going back East to spend some time with my mother—”

“How long will you be gone?” Damn. He hated it when she was gone.

Pain flashed across her features; her voice dropped. “She’s…not doing well.”

His heart squeezed and he wanted to say something comforting but couldn’t find any words. Sara’s mother had been in and out of the hospital for a year. They were very close. Each time her mother had a relapse, Sara suffered.

Jack had never had a mother so he couldn’t relate but he imagined having one and losing her would be even harder than never having one at all.

“In the meantime, I’ll put together a plan for you.”

“A…plan?” His mind spun. How on earth was this going to work if she wasn’t even here?

“Yes. And you have to follow it.”

“I will.”

She put her hands flat on the desk and skewered him with a glower. “Religiously, Jack.”

“Okay.” He tried to not wriggle in his seat. He loved it when she got all…adamant. “So you’ll do it?”

“Yes,” she sighed. “I’ll do it.”

Relief cascaded through him. Relief and hope. It was a tiny sprig of hope, but hope was hope. “So when do we begin?”

She gazed at him. Some strange emotion he couldn’t interpret flashed over her features. “Now.”

Oh. God. Excitement and satisfaction and panic surged through him. “Now?”

“Yes. I need to do an assessment. You know. To figure out exactly where we are.”

He swallowed. “An assessment?”

“Of your game.”

“Okay.” He liked games. He scooted to the edge of his seat.

“Let’s pretend I’m a woman—”

“You are a woman.”

She wrinkled her nose. “Be serious, Jack.”

“I am being serious.” He was.

“Let’s pretend I’m a woman you see at a bar. And you’re interested.”

Oh. He was.

“What’s the first thing you do?”

Okay. He could wrap his brain around this. He shifted to the side and pulled out his wallet. Found his trusty cheat sheet and unfolded it and spread it flat on the desk.

“What the hell is that?” She gaped at the rumpled, well-worn paper.

“It’s my flowchart.” Duh.

Sara blinked. “You have a flowchart for picking up women.” Not a question.

“Naturally.” Didn’t everyone?

“Let me see that.” Before he could stop her she snatched the paper away. Scanned it. “Oh God.”

He knew what she was seeing. He’d studied this flowchart a hundred times. Still, when she read it aloud, he winced.

“Picking Up Chicks.” She grimaced. “Seriously, Jack? That’s what you named it?”

“Yes.” What else would he name it?

“‘Step One. Assess the situation’. Okay. That works. ‘Does she seem cranky?’ Cranky? Seriously, Jack? Cranky?”

He shrugged. “It’s a critical variable.” It was. It was exceedingly difficult to pick up a cranky woman. “Statistically speaking—”

But Sara ignored him. “‘If Yes: Charm her from her bad mood. If No: Proceed with caution.’” Sara sighed and glanced up at him. “Proceed with caution? We’re not wild animals, Jack.”

“You kind of are.” This he muttered. She didn’t hear. Or maybe she did. Maybe she was ignoring him again. She did that.

With a derisive snort, she crumpled up his precious template for seduction and tossed it in the trash.

With a strangled “eep” he dove in after it, dug it out, refolded it and tucked it back into his wallet. It had never worked but it was all he had. He needed it.

She glared at him. And then for some reason she softened. “Women are not an empirical science, Jack.” She gestured to his wallet. “We’re not all alike. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to winning someone’s heart.”

Yeah. He got that. “But you need to have a standard operating procedure—”

“No, ya don’t.” She blew out a breath. He loved the way it made her bangs flutter up. “Don’t you see? This kind of thing comes off as cheesy. Planned. Practiced.”

“And that’s…bad?” How could planning and practice be bad?

“Women don’t want to feel like they’re an insect being dissected or analyzed. They don’t want to be one option in a sea of possibilities. They want to be special. They want a guy who responds to them on an instinctual level. A guy who is so interested, he can’t help but be charming. Not a guy who has to be reminded to be seductive—by an SOP.”

He shook his head. This was all so…alien. “I don’t get it.”

She buried her face in her hands. “No. You don’t. That’s the point. Oh Jack, I’m going to need a couple days to think about this.”

His pulse stuttered. “But you already promised…”

“No. I’ll do it. I did promise to do it. I just need to think about how to do it.”

He relaxed. Okay. Okay. Okay. It would be okay. “Thank you, Sara.”

“Yeah.” Her cell phone buzzed and she picked it up to check the screen. Her lips tightened and she set it back down. “No prob.”

Damn. Why did she seem so dispirited? He’d seen the tears on her cheeks when he interrupted her meeting with Kat. He’d hated her tears. Hated even more that he didn’t have any right to wipe them away.

“Sara.” He waited until she met his gaze. “Thank you.”

This meant everything to him. More than she could ever know.

“Sure, Jack. Give me a couple days to think about this.”

“Sure.”

She stared at him for a minute and then said in a very small voice, “You can go now.”

Right. He could go. But he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to go. He wanted to fold her in his arms and hold her and make whatever was making her sad disappear.

He didn’t have that right either.

And he never would.

But for the next few months, he’d have her attention.

And that would be worth a thousand trips to Paris.

 

About Sabrina York

Sabrina York is an award winning author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers, her titles range from sweet & sexy erotic romance to BDSM to erotic horror. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!

 

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday's How She Does It with Sabrina York


We all know there are six elements of fiction. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. I believe the first five lead to the sixth which for me is plot. What's your take on this?
 
While characters, conflict, era, setting, motivations and turning points drive plot, I find other elements also define a story. These include how the author uses point of view, theme, style and tone can greatly influence the reader’s experience far beyond the structure of plot. The kind of language and word usage an author selects will create a distinctive read. Many authors refer to the lens through which they view the story. By focusing in or pulling back, the author can influence the reader’s emotional hit.
 
In case you haven’t noticed, I find this aspect of writing fascinating. In my opinion, we have one job as authors and that is to evoke emotion in the reader.
 
 
1.      How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific method?
 
I don’t like to do long detailed info sheets. I find it distracts me in the process. I like to get to know my characters the way I get to know my friends, which is organically. (Usually conversations…while I am driving!)
 
Things I do need to know include the character’s longing or need, deep wound, beliefs about the world (because of that wound) and the character’s hidden fear. I also pinpoint the character’s Identity (who they think they are) and their essence (who they are at their core).  The conflict between the two forms the foundation of character driven stories. This character map comes from Michael Hauge’s The Hero’s Inner Journey  (http://www.storymastery.com/)
 
 
2. Do your characters come before the plot?
 
It depends on how the story came to me. Sometimes the core idea comes from a name, a word, a plot twist or a character trait. Sometimes stories emerge from a long, convoluted process. Sometimes stories spring from commercials on TV, conversations with friends, or from other stories I’ve written. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and just KNOW. Everything.
 
In the Wired Series, Jack had already appeared in two other books before he got his own. The challenge with him was taking a character who was fairly unlikable in Adam’s Obsession and Tristan’s Temptation, and making him loveable. How did I do that? I gave him a secret self. One he hides from the world.
 
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
 
I know in a general way. I don’t like being too locked in to a plot because it stifles the creative process. But I do need a roadmap. I just allow myself to take the long way on occasion!  
 
4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
 
Usually I have a specific place in mind when I write. It could be a house I’ve lived in or a city I visited. But it helps so much with choreography if I have been there and know the place. The Wired Series is based in the Los Angeles area, because I lived there when I wrote it. So much easier than checking a map every time a character makes a turn on the freeway!
 
5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
 
I love books with a passion. Nothing gives me more pleasure than perusing a dictionary or encyclopedia. Books with historical fashion are a particular passion of mine. But time is a factor, so nowadays I tend to hop online and look things up. It’s much quicker.
 
6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?
 
I am a plotter so before I begin composition of a story, I sketch out the major plot points on a grid. When I begin writing, I know the major beats and the ending. That said, more than once a story has gone in a completely different direction. In Making Over Maris, Jack bribes Sara with a trip to Paris as an incentive to help make him more attractive to women. I had no intention of taking Sara to Paris for her birthday. The book was supposed to end long before then…but she really wanted to go and Jack really wanted her to see Paris, so it became a much bigger theme in the story. The scene on the Bridge of Sighs became a pivotal point in the book. Because that’s the way they wanted it!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thursday's Opening Scene from A Spicy Seduction by Janet Lane Walters



A Spicy Seduction

 

Chapter 1

 

Jules Grayson sat behind the mahogany desk in his office. “Why me?” He propped his elbows on the leather desk pad.

“Trust me,” Tony said.

Jules stared at his friend. Trusting others wasn’t part of his personality. “Why can’t one of your other friends be best man at your wedding?”

“They come in pairs. Lauren doesn’t want her friend to feel out of place. You’re the only bachelor left in our circle.”

And he intended to stay that way for a long time. “So why do I have to meet her now? The rehearsal would suit me fine.”

Tony grinned. “Trust me. You’ll like Grace.”

Jules straightened. He used to know a girl named Grace. She’d been the only one who had turned him down. Just thinking about her brought memories of a time and place he didn’t want to remember. “I really don’t want to cross the river.”

“Just for this weekend meet and two days for the wedding.” Tony rose. “What do you have against the village?”

“Do you have to ask? The group home. Your father rescued me from false accusations.” Jules clenched the steel letter opener. “I’ll come. Some time on Saturday, do the meet and greet and leave Sunday morning.”

Tony paused at the door. “There’s a plus. You won’t have to enter the village. My house is a couple of miles away.”

“Go. Let me get some work done.”

“Saturday.”

“Yes.”

Moments after Tony left Mrs. Jamison entered with a stack of mail. She dropped the pile on his desk. “Buzz when you need me.”

“Will do.” He slit the top envelope and groaned. Not what he wanted to see. Before leaving for her honeymoon, Allie Blakefield, editor of Good Cookin’ Magazine had given him an assignment. Having contracts signed wasn’t his usual chore for the Good Magazine Group but he’d agreed. Allie wanted the owner of Cupcakes Sweet and Spicy to agree to a feature.

With three letters and four phone calls the woman’s answer had been no. Allie returned Monday. Today was Friday.

His hand hovered over the phone. A call wouldn’t work. He’d already tried several times. A visit to the bakery might do the trick. He didn’t want to go there. The bakery was in that place. He sucked in a breath. Never leave a job undone was his rule.

When Allie asked, he’d figured obtaining the contract signature was a no-brainer. What bakery wouldn’t want to be featured in a national magazine? He’d had a failsafe plan. Mail the contract. Make a phone call or two. Answer questions. Contract signed. Hadn’t happened. Time to spread some charm.

Jules buzzed Tony’s cell. The moment his friend answered, Jules’ gut clenched. Though he hated asking, he would. “Jules here.”

“You are not backing out.”

Jules chuckled. “You’re right. Just wondering if I could come tonight. Have some business for Good Cookin’ across the river today.”

“No problem. I’ll call Lauren. What time?”

“Around noon. I’ll drop my bag off, see to business and swing back.”

“Good enough. TGIF. I’ll be home around three. Good luck with your whatever.”

“Sales pitch.” Jules disconnected. He shoved two copies of the contract in his briefcase and tended to the rest of the mail. Nothing urgent. The clock chimed the half hour.

With briefcase in hand he paused at his secretary’s desk. “I’ll be out of town until Monday. Buzz my cell if anything needs to be handled quickly and take the afternoon off.”

“Will do.”

Jules waved. When he thought of his destination his stomach churned.

A half hour later he sat in the driver’s seat of his Jeep. He clutched the keys in his fist. Waves of nausea assaulted him. He gulped a breath. He could do this. Two events had forced the trip across the bridge to the Hudson River village where he’d grown up. The day ten years ago when he’d left he’d vowed never to return. Trouble comes in three. Not that business and a wedding were the problem. Trouble existed in memories of the place where his life had imploded.

His weekender and briefcase sat on the passenger’s seat. He’d packed enough clothes for the weekend.

You can do this. The words spiraled in an unending chain in his thoughts. He shoved the key in the ignition, revved the engine and drove from the underground garage. As the vehicle emerged into the light, Jules grinned. Something about being above the sedans and coupes made him feel powerful. He wove through traffic heading for the upper deck of the George Washington Bridge. Hard rock poured from the speakers.

A glance at the sky showed gathering clouds. Snow predictions meant an early covering of white over city sidewalks and brown suburban lawns.

Not long after hitting the Palisades Parkway the feeling of doom he’d pushed aside leaped into his thoughts like the demons kids feared lurked in the closet or under the bed.

He gripped the wheel. The vehicle veered right. If he didn’t calm down he would run off the road or into another car. He spotted the turn-off for an overlook and pulled into the parking lot.

Get a grip.

Jules climbed down and walked to the railing at the edge. He stared at the gray waters of the Hudson. A blustery wind slapped his face. Across the river he saw the skyline of the city where he’d rather be.

You can do this. The mantra rang in his head. He revised his plans. Drop case at Tony’s. Visit Bakery. Charm owner. Obtain signature. Today’s plan sounded right.

He returned to the Jeep and soon entered the flow of traffic. After leaving the parkway he sped along the winding road and finally saw the turnoff to Tony’s house. As he reached the development he located his friend’s massive house. He pulled into the long driveway, grabbed the overnighter and strode to the door.

Lauren answered the ring. She held her infant nephew on her hip. Jamie burbled.

“Hello to you.” Jules stepped inside and kissed Lauren’s cheek. He ruffled Jamie’s hair. “I gather the man warned you.”

“He did. Good to see you but you cost me ten dollars.”

“How?”

“Bet Tony you’d find a way to bail and here you are a day early.”

Jules winked. “I’ve come to convince you to run away with me.”

She laughed. “Just like those old rumors. When I think of the days in the group home, I cringe. I wonder how the Pattersons got the idea we were together.”

“Pure invention ala Charlene.” He put a finger on her lips. “No talk about those times or places.”

“Fine. I’ll show you to a guest room.”

Jules hung his coat in the foyer closet and followed her past the living room to the wide staircase. Why had Tony bought such a large house? He’s asked his friend for a reason weeks ago.

“For the kitchen. It’s a cook’s dream.”

Lauren opened the door of a room just beyond the stairs. Jules dropped the bag at the foot of a massive four poster bed. Warm shades of brown and green gave a cozy feel to the space.

“The bath is through this door and connects to a second guest room.” Lauren cracked the door. “Since you’re the only guest you won’t have to worry about locking the door,”

Jules shook his head. “Just how many bedrooms are there?”

Lauren laughed. Seven counting the master, nursery and the third floor suite.”

“And baths?”

Four on this floor. One in the suite. Two powder rooms on the first floor and one with a shower in the basement. Thank heavens there’s a cleaning service. Would take me a month just to vacuum and dust.”

Jules followed her downstairs. “I need to do a bit of business for Good Cookin’. Means going to town.”

“Five Cuisines?”

“No. I’ll tell you at dinner. What time do we eat?”

“Six thirty or so. Do you want lunch?”

A lump filled his stomach. “I’ll grab something in the village.” Maybe when he finished at the bakery his appetite would return.

She patted his arm. Had she sensed his uneasiness? “There are some great places. Want me to recommend one?”

“I’ll manage.”

He snagged his coat from the closet and left. Cupcakes, here I come.

When he reached the village he saw Christmas had arrived. Probably between Halloween and Thanksgiving. The shops bore lights and festive decorations. The light poles were wound with red, green, gold and silver.

He made a turn and found he’d driven down the street where the group homes were located. He gripped the wheel. His two years at the boy’s home had been a drag. Circumstances had made him a ward of the court. His attitude had brought him here.

His stomach lurched. He slowed to a crawl and rolled past the pair of houses separated by a fence. This trip along memory lane had been a bad idea.

You can’t go home but this had never been his,

A stray bit slipped into focus. Grace two years younger than he was, pretty. He’d flirted with her and decided she would be his next conquest. With laughter she’d turned him down leaving him to fend off the girl he’d had no desire to screw.

With a groan he turned the corner and looked for a parking space. His plan formed. Charm Ms. Sutton. Get her signature. Return to Tony’s.

A flurry of snowflakes dotted the sidewalks with dark circles as they melted.