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 |

Quick and Dirty Tips for Writing a Kick Butt Author Bio

One the most stressful parts about starting out as a writer was writing my author biography.  Making up worlds and characters somehow seemed much simpler than having to talk about ME.  I’m not all that interesting, that’s why I make interesting people up!  As someone who runs a review blog, I know the importance of a great author bio.  Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way as both an author and blogger that I think help make for a kick butt author bio.

1.  Give yourself time. 

Seriously.  Don’t try to do this in a night.  Rough draft that thing and let it simmer. Continue reading

Dealing With Feedback and Critiques When All You Want To Do Is Duck And Hide

I recently had an experience that may be familiar to many of you. It is a moment we both look forward to  and dread.  When we get feedback and critiques back from contest judges, critique partners, beta readers, etc.  I have entered a few contests recently, and while I didn’t place, I did receive feedback and comments from the judges. I have also sent the first few chapters to two friends of mine, both of whom are published authors, and got comments and feedback from them as well. But surely I can’t be the only one who has such mixed feelings about getting feedback on your writing right? Continue reading

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

Fairy Tale 2.0 – Modernizing Your Favorite Tales

I love fairy tales. I love reading them. I love reading and watching adaptations of them.  I love writing adaptations of them.  As a reader/movie & television watcher I have yet to come across a fairy tale adaptation concept that I was completely unwilling to try.   Of course there are ones that end up working better than others and some that could have worked and didn’t for various reasons. But I’ve never heard a fairy tale adaptation idea and thought “Nope, no way.”  My usual response is more along the lines of “Say what now? Veeerrry interrrreeesting…tell me more.”

"Sleeping Beauty" by William A. Breakspeare

“Sleeping Beauty” by William A. Breakspeare

Why? Because fairy tales are infinitely adaptable.  The themes and characters are often a part of our broader culture consciousness—and not just because we all watched Disney movies as kids, but because these stories have been told over and over in so many ways for centuries and they tap into how humans think and feel. Continue reading

Self-Pub Rebels – Success, Wine, and RWA

c265ec93a60ccb85bc14fae4faf25627If you remember my last post, I talked about how I’d be attending the Romance Writers of America National Conference, along with Amy Pfaff and Lisa Lin from Teatime. I got through my awesome London underworld workshop fine (thanks, Sasha for lending me your jump drive, Elizabeth Hoyt and Jade Lee for taking my nerves away, and thanks to the AMAZING woman who lent me her laptop), and the rest of the way I reclined in the sheer joy of being surrounded by so many wonderful romance writers. If you haven’t been to RWA, and you’re serious about writing (or you’re a librarian, etc), then I highly recommend it. I learned so much in those short five days that I can’t even begin to summarize it all for you. I’m sure we’ll have many posts on Teatime in the coming months spawned from our new RWA-centric knowledge. Continue reading

Stop Checking Your Word Count

word count photoDon’t Check Your Word Count

Yes, you read that right.

Don’t check it.

Of course, now that I’ve said something, you’ll probably want to check it. But try to resist.

A few weeks ago I talked about using the improv rule “yes… and?” when you write as a means to push yourself into new places by letting your imagination go wild. Improv lets you experiment, lets you break boundaries that you might have consciously or unconsciously set for yourself.

Something else that I think you should try is not checking your word count on your first draft. Like, at all. Ever. Just don’t do it. Continue reading