Chatting about Romantic Suspense

One of the questions I get asked the most when talking about the Rookery Rogues with readers is how I’m able to work in stories of suspense alongside the romance. I dabble in reading contemporary romantic suspense, but in truth my love for the grittier elements came from my intense love for Agatha Christie. Growing up, I read every one of Christie’s Poirot mysteries, often times more than once. Of course, my favorite is Murder on the Links, in which Captain Hastings falls in love. I love the way Christie was able to paint a picture of every secondary character, so insightfully that you knew who they were in just a few sentences.

Of course, as a romance writer, I’m more concerned nowadays with the relationships between characters than I am with the “whodunit.” I’m not a particularly clever person at solving mysteries, and I’ll admit I’m often along for the ride instead of actively detective solving. I never pursued a career in criminology because of this, despite my extreme affinity for crime shows. When I work on the suspense elements for The Rookery Rogues, what I want to create is a perilous situation—or a series of situations—that either furthers the bond between hero and heroine, or does something to estrange it. In A Dangerous Invitation, I use a combination of this. There’s a scene where Kate and Daniel are running from the villain and they’re trapped in a wool warehouse. A closeness grows between them, for they’re forced to depend on each other. This startles Kate, who isn’t willing to deal with her reemerging feelings for Daniel. So in a sense, not only has the chase brought in an element of action, but it has increased the conflict.

One of the books I read when drafting A Dangerous Invitation is Conflict and Suspense, which I’ve talked about before. I loved this book because not only does it give you exercises to work on, but it also examines different techniques. For me, I like to approach a book with both proverbial guns blaring. I don’t pull puns in the first draft—I’m going to throw everything I can at the book and see what sticks. Sometimes this means awesome scenes get cut, and sometimes it means I move things around so that I can include this new fight or mystery.

But what I really have to remember when I outline a book is that yes, this guns blasting approach is great, but you need to give your readers time to rest. There needs to be a break between the tense moments. I love emotional angst (no one is surprised) and that’s obviously one of my favorite things to write. Last Saturday at my chapter’s holiday party, I was talking to fellow author Kianna Alexander, and she mentioned that often the sex scenes in a book are the “rest period” for the reader. This is especially true in romantic suspense, when the stakes really are often life or death. The reader needs that time to breathe and recharge for the next crazy explosion.

Rookery_eBOOK_SmWhat I recommend to other romantic suspense authors is finding a critique partner who is as equally interested in all your action-centric elements as you are. I found that when I met Jennelle Holland through Teatime. As many of you know, Jennelle also writes romantic suspense and she’s a martial artist. I’m so fortunate to have Jennelle because not only does she correct the fight scenes I write but then she tests them out with her husband to make sure they’re feasible. Because I have no actual fighting training, this is so helpful to me. I run into a lot of problems visualizing just how a fight should go. I see the movements in my head, but I don’t always know the best punches or kicks to insert to get the right effect.

But mostly, I just love to write things that go boom.

 

A Dangerous Invitation is out in the wild! Get your e-copy today at the following vendors: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Smashwords |

A Lot Like Love

Let’s talk about love.

Okay, before you start humming because that totally sounds like a pop song, follow me here. So my mother visited for Thanksgiving, which was absolutely lovely. She lives in Florida so we don’t get to see each other as much since I’ve moved to North Carolina. Visiting with my mother was her fiancé and his family (son, daughter-in-law, and grandson). This was the first real holiday we’d shared as a blended family, at least for me, and I was a little nervous. My father passed two and a half years ago, and it still hurts that he’s not here to share my life. But there’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, brought on by this visit: love takes a lot of different forms.

Family = Love

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It’s Okay to Know Nothing

The  only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
-Socrates

My name is Erica, and I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.

Question 3So if I say this to you, your first reaction might be to look concerned and go “Awh, honey, that’s not true. You totally got this.” Perhaps in time, that would be true. As I age and gain experience in this crazy world of publishing, maybe I’ll start to feel like I understand a little bit more.
Maybe each attempt at starting a new book won’t feel like I’ve forgotten every single thing I ever learned about writing and I’m again sitting in my Fiction I class during my freshman year of college, being told that I need to “write what I know.” (To read my thoughts on that, check out here). I’d like to think I’ll suddenly receive some sort of grail-like knowledge about writing that will convince me I’m not a hack, but I’m pretty sure that won’t happen. Continue reading

Reese Ryan On the Bad Boy Love

Let me introduce you to Reese Ryan!

Let me introduce you to Reese Ryan!

One of my favorite parts of being on Teatime Romance is being able to promote local-to-me authors. I met Reese Ryan a year ago through my chapter of the Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina. Reese is the sweetest girl with a sassy sense of humor. Today, I’m delighted to get to share you with news of her second book with Carina Press, Love Me Not. For sexy contemporary romance with reformed bad boys, look no further than Reese’s excellent Bad Boys Gone Good series. I’m endlessly curious (ie, nosy) about the attraction of bad boys, having married a sweet, rather beta hero myself. (Shush, all of you laughing because you know MrMonroe has me totally wrapped around his finger.)  Reese stopped by to eat some scones and drink some tea with us, all the while dishing about her series.

1. I’m so glad to have you in my Heart of Carolina chapter. How long have you been in North Carolina? Continue reading

On Reviews, And Why My Baby Isn’t Perfect

As you read this, I am officially less than two months from the release of my debut novel. Yes, that’s lovely and I’m proud of myself and so forth, but it’s also terrifying. Because in two months, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to purchase a copy of A Dangerous Invitation, and evaluate it to their heart’s content. In light of all the reactions to the third book in the Divergent series this week, Allegiant, I’m keeping my head high and trying to remind myself that the relationship between readers and writers is weird, made even weirder by social media and the instant accessibility of everything.  I’m not really sure how to process fame like author Veronica Roth has, or that intense level of fandom.

While I highly doubt A Dangerous Invitation will suddenly launch itself into a crazy battle about the characters like what Roth is at the center of, the reviews will inevitably come. Some will be fabulous—they’ll say things like I appealed to a deep part of them, or that my hero and heroine’s emotional journeys struck a nerve. They’ll like my brand of angsty grit, and they’ll be as excited as I am about being able to blow things up and still have it be historically accurate. They’ll champion my combined romantic suspense and historical romance efforts. I firmly believe that every story has an audience (you might have to dig a hole to China and sell it under to subterranean people who call themselves the Whirligigs, but an audience exists), so I have no doubt that inevitably ADI will reach an encouraging audience.

Bells

Hey look, your hole will take you here. Aweeessoommmme.

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Staying on Task with Tech

In late August, I quit my full-time job as an Administrative Assistant to pursue what I’ve always dreamed of: a career as a writer. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, and going after this “romance writing thing” since 2011. Finally, after years of trying to find my focus, I had a series (The Rookery Rogues, for those of you wondering) that I believed strongly in and a game plan. I would self-publish, thus giving myself the freedom to make my own decisions and go whole-hog on the crazy, untraditionally dark ideas I had in mind.

Writing In Her Journal 1

What I Expected to Be Doing

But quitting my full-time job meant I suddenly had no income until my first book, A Dangerous Invitation, debuts in December. While my husband devoted brings home the bacon with his career in computers, we still needed an extra bit of help. I accepted a part-time job two days a week working as a receptionist in another engineering firm. Getting out of the house for this job keeps me from becoming a hermit, and it keeps my skillset up and gives me a spot on my résumé should I ever decide to go back to full-time admin work. Continue reading

On Returning Home

As you read this, I am in my adopted home state of Florida, being the surprise visitor to my mother’s 60th birthday party. This visit came as a surprise to me too, when my mother’s fiance contacted me to ask if my husband and I would mind being flown into Florida for the party. Well, I never turn a trip down, so here I am, back from the big metropolitan areas (hey, if you could see where I lived in Florida, you’d know why these cities are huge to me) of North Carolina.

Key Largo Palms And Sky

Key Largo Palms taken by Sxc.hu user Winterdove

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