Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Symmetry in Writing: How to Keep the Flow Moving

Author Donna Alward
by Donna Alward

In 2006 Harlequin Romance bought HIRED BY THE COWBOY.  I’d been trying for nearly 5 years to sell to Harlequin; after a lot of rejections and nearly-theres, I finally put a twist on a popular trope and nailed what they were looking for.

HIRED BY THE COWBOY is a marriage of convenience story, and Connor and Alex decide to get married because of her baby. The “twist”, as such, is that the baby isn’t his. But he’s willing to step up and help. Of course, the initial intention isn’t to be married forever, and fatherhood isn’t really considered a permanent situation.

Until it is.

Hired by the Cowboy
I loved writing that story. I loved how they slowly fell in love, and how the planning of the wedding brought them closer together—and further apart.

That book has proved one of my most popular to date.

I’ve recently switched gears into writing longer, single-title books, and so my last for Harlequin is out in January 2016 – ten years after I sold my first. THE COWBOY’S CONVENIENT BRIDE is…you guessed it. A marriage of convenience story. And the hero is willing to marry the heroine because of her baby. Whoa!

Granted, the baby in the story is already born and cute as a bug’s ear. But she’s not his (in fact, he’s a paramedic and helped deliver her), and he’s not really looking at fatherhood as a long-term thing.

Until he is. You know what happens next.

The Cowboy's Convenient Bride
I love the symmetry between the two stories—my first and my last for Harlequin. It gives me a neat sense of closure, like I’ve come full circle. I honestly never thought I’d stop writing those shorter romances, and who knows? Maybe one day I’ll go back. I’m focusing on longer works now, but I know that I’m going to miss going home to my small-town ranchers and cowboys.  I’ve done 29 of them, and writing one feels like putting on comfortable shoes and walking around for a while. And while I love the full-circle aspect, I have to tell you that getting to 29 and not a nice, round 30 is a little grating. It feels unfinished somehow.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned for sure about publishing, it’s that nothing is ever written in stone. So who knows?

Here’s the blurb for THE COWBOY’S CONVENIENT BRIDE:

FOR HER DAUGHTER

Laura Jessup is used to the rumors—everyone in tiny Gibson, Montana, thinks she’s a home-wrecker. And Laura can handle that if it means protecting her daughter from her sweet girl’s father. Only hunky EMT Tanner Hudson seems immune to the gossipmongers. The solution he proposes—a marriage in name only!—might just be crazy enough to work…if only Laura can keep her heart out of it.

Tanner wasn’t sure Laura would accept a platonic marriage, even though it would stop the rumor mills and get his own family off his back. But as the wedding draws closer, Tanner worries that his plan is working a little too well. He’s falling for Laura, hard. They thought they were ready for marriage, but are Tanner and Laura prepared for real love?

Donna Alward loves to hear from fans. You can reach her via her Website, follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Resourceful Heroine

Author Chris Karlsen
by Chris Karlsen

When conversation turns toward strong women in books and other forms of entertainment, there seems to be a split. One group is made up of those ladies whose strength comes from power through political or financial influence and those who are deemed in the media as “kick ass” heroines. Recently, the more popular of the two has been the kick ass variety. They would be the Lara Crofts or Ilsa Faust the ally of Ethan Hunt in the latest IMF movie Rogue Nation. Both groups have made for interesting characters.

In Time for You - Special Pre-order sale on Kindle
I find there’s a third group and that’s the heroine I like to write. She’s what I call the resourceful heroine. She’s not wealthy nor does she have political power to wield. She’s not a master of any form of martial arts or top drawer shooter who could challenge the best sniper. She’s not even much in the way of a MacGyver. In a lot of ways, my heroines are like me. If you put me in a room and Flexcuff me to a chair with just a Swiss Army knife and come back in two hours, in two hours I’ll still be cuffed to the chair. I’ll not have MacGyver’d my way out of those cuffs.

What I try to have my heroines do is use the skillsets they have. I like to take ordinary women and put them in extraordinary circumstances and make them shine. I make them strong through their resourcefulness.

Electra and Emily Crippen, the two sisters from In Time For You, my latest historical romance, are torn through time and suddenly find themselves in medieval England. They recognize early on they need to adapt to the medieval world they’ve been thrown in and figure a way to contribute. This period in history was not a good time for women. The sisters are in a dangerous situation and cannot afford to put a foot wrong. Without giving away spoilers, I’ll just say I had them to use their skills, their common sense and their intellect.

With them it’s my way of saying that strength comes in many forms. I never wanted the sisters to give up. They had moments where they got close. They shed some tears once in a while, not often because I don’t like weepy heroines, but when push came to shove, they held kept it together. I hope the readers like that about them as much as I enjoyed giving them that gumption.

Check out more of Chris' Books on StoryFinds


Chris loves to hear from fans. She can be reached on her website, on Facebook or Twitter.



Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Appeal of Writing Mail Order Bride Romances

Author Linda Bridey

Writing is truly a labor of love for me.  I'd always written stories, but until I began writing the Montana Mail Order Brides (Westward) Series, I hadn't been serious about my craft.  Finally, after a lot of encouragement by my family and friends, I decided to take the plunge and begin publishing those stories.  There are 23 books in the Westward Series and there are 8 books in my Echo Canyon Brides series, which is still ongoing.  The current book is titled Montana Orphan and it builds upon the events from the last book and introduces some new characters as well.
I’ve been asked about my creative process many times and the best way to describe it is that I have this creative door in my head that characters walk up to, knock on, and come through.  They sit down, introduce themselves, and tell me what they're like.  I develop them from there, but they lead me where they want to go and sometimes we argue.  Yes, I know how that sounds, but it's true.  I've tried to write with an outline, but the characters never go where I originally thought they would. 
Westward Winds by Linda Bridey
I’m also asked frequently for advice on writing.  Here it is; read and write every day.  Even if what you write is garbage, write.  It's the only way to hone your craft.  Take risks and don't be afraid to roam outside of your comfort zone.  Stretch yourself as a writer and be ruthless when you edit.  Cut out things that don't go with your story lines, but don't get rid of it.  Save it because it might come in handy somewhere else down the line where it might fit better.  Don't listen to the reviews that aren't constructive.  It'll only discourage you and prevent you from writing.  Own your mistakes and go on and do better.
I’ve always admired Nora Roberts’ style of writing because her characters are vivid and she doesn't get bogged down with a lot of description that just slowly down the story.  So I guess I sort of emulate her somewhat.  I'm also an avid Stephen King fan and I love the way he inserts humor into his scariest stories, so I try to do that, too.
The biggest obstacle I always have to overcome is that I tend to be a very prolific writer.  Editing is painful for me because I never want to cut anything out of a story.  So I have to very stern with myself about it and force my fingers to hit the delete button or move text to a new document to use at a future date.
Montana Rescue by Linda Bridey
What’s next for me?  I’m very excited about my upcoming series, The Dawson Chronicles, which is a spinoff of the Westward Series and continues telling the romantic stories of Dawson’s residents and the descendants of the original characters.  My readers were clamoring for more of the characters they’ve come to love and I just couldn’t refuse them.

Linda can be reached on her Facebook page. Follow her on Twitter and check out her Website.