Tilting At Windmills

Sanity is a slippery slope at times. We all know this. We’ve all fought our share of four armed giants and lost. None of us as innocent as when we started out. Certainly, as supporters of the romance genre, whether as reader or writer, we’ve defended against countless giants in the form of cynics and naysayers. Some might say we are the Don Quixote of the literary world. The laughingstock. The discounted. The delusional.

Romantic ideals don’t put food on the table. No matter the ideal is food for the mind. Reality must be dealt with. But how we deal with it is up to us.

man of la manchaI saw Man of La Mancha at Globe Theatre last night. Can you tell? In case, like me, you’re unfamiliar, it’s a play within a play. Tax collector, writer, soldier, and unfortunate poet, Miguel de Cervantes, is tossed into prison and is waiting his hearing by the Spanish Inquisition. First, however, he must defend himself against his follow prisoners to save his most precious possession. His unfinished novel, Don Quixote. The trials and tribulations of a mad knight.

Don Quixote is a lot bonkers. He’s read too many books about chivalry and knights and romance. Poor sot. Determined to resurrect the notion of chivalry, he sets out on a journey.

I shall impersonate a man. His name is Alonso Quijana, a country squire no longer young. Being retired, he has much time for books. He studies them from morn till night and often through the night and morn again, and all he reads oppresses him; fills him with indignation at man’s murderous ways toward man. He ponders the problem of how to make better a world where evil brings profit and virtue none at all; where fraud and deceit are mingled with truth and sincerity. He broods and broods and broods and broods and finally his brains dry up. He lays down the melancholy burden of sanity and conceives the strangest project ever imagined…. to become a knight-errant, and sally forth into the world in search of adventures; to mount a crusade; to raise up the weak and those in need. No longer will he be plain Alonso Quijana, but a dauntless knight known as Don Quixote de La Mancha. – Miguel de Cervantes, Man of La Mancha

Yeah, there are days I’d like to lay down the melancholy burden of sanity too. Then again, I am a romance writer and reader. So…there you go. Fortunately, I haven’t read so many romance novels my brains have dried up. Or given me unrealistic expectations, a familiar taunt and most insulting insinuation by the way.

Here’s the thing. You know he’s nuts. But…you can’t help but root for him, even if there’s a little pity mixed in. He sees the world, not how it is, but how he wishes. In this age of text messages and the illusion of 750 Facebook friends, why not dip your toe into the pool of delusion. Not as a full time job, of course.

I come in a world of iron to make a world of gold.- Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha

I loved this play. It inspired me to think and wonder. I’m not quite sure I understood it all, but that only makes me want to see it performed again. Because, you see, I couldn’t help but relate to Don Quixote. And that’s the thing about this play. There’s a little Don Quixote in all of us. Reality can break a person. Therefore, we must bend it a little to suit ourselves.

Which loops me back to romance. Romantic fiction is necessary. Stories filled with sole purpose of traveling the winding, uphill road to a happily-ever-after are important.When reality presses in, pick up a romance novel. Immerse yourself in modern acts of chivalry. Spend some times with heroes or heroines who you know will fight to figure it out. Let them inspire you. Give you a few precious moments of peace. Of adventure. Turn the pages, dream the impossible dream. At least for awhile.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!  – Miguel de Cervantes, Man of La Mancha

If you get a chance to see Man of La Mancha I hope you take it. I hope it inspires you. I hope it brings out the Don Quixote in you, my fellow travelers.

 

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Baton Blog Hop

I’ve been invited to the Baton Blog Hop by JB Lynn, who writes laugh-out-loud suspense and mysteries, along with goosebump-raising thrillers. Sounds good, eh?  The extra great news is she usually has a contest running and now is no different so check out her Contest Page and enter to win!

Time to answer a few questions!

1) What am I working on?

I’m working on my second Aspen Lake novel. Life is small town Aspen Lake is heating up again, on the streets and between the sheets. Kate Logan, boutique owner, is fighting to get her life back on track. Seth Stone, starving artist and carpenter, is leaving reality behind to start again. But when a extremist religious group move to Aspen Lake and make it their mission to shut down the annual Gothic Revival Festival Kate is organizing, trouble brings them together.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I guess it differs because it’s my voice telling the story. Hopefully, what you’ll find is everyday men and women who don’t have all the answers and are looking to find their place in the world. Along the way they find their happily-ever-after. Also, Aspen Lake is a small town in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. Not many of those around, LOL.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I write romantic suspense because that’s what I love to read. I love torturing my characters. I love strong male leads, and smart female heroines. But I also love a good villain. I not sure what that says about me…

4) How does your writing process work?

Gosh, it’s all over the place. I fit it in when I can, but I try to write everyday. Therefore, I write in chunks. My writing groups holds three or four writing challenges a year. I love those and writing long side and being inspired by writers I admire.

Passing the baton.

Meet Elizabeth Lang, who I have privilege of knowing! Elizabeth is a science fiction and fantasy writer and author of The Empire series. Lucky you, you can check out some free stories and other things here.

Happy Reading Everyone!

 

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Off The Grid Postcards!

I love them! Thank you Elizabeth Lang for doing up these wonderful postcards!

Off the Grid postcard 1Off the Grid postcard 2Off the Grid postcard 3They’re so pretty I had to share. These are my favorite type of promotional items, along with bookmarks. A reader can always use more bookmarks, right? What do you think? Do like seeing postcards with quotes from books on Facebook, blogs, etc? Do they peak your interest? Tempt you to investigate further? Share your thoughts on promotional items?

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Ready, Set, Write!

pumpkin1

Today it’s all about the ghosts and goblins but National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow. And that’s all about the writing.

nanowrimo

November is also about mustaches and raising money for a good cause.

kim coatesAnd that’s a random picture of Kim Coates who plays Tig on the TV show Sons of Anarchy which I love and don’t know why. He sports some pretty awesome facial hair. Anyway…

I’ve never written a story about a guy with a ‘tache. But I’m writing a story about a guy with a Dodge Demon he calls Veronica.

dodge demonHe’s into grunge rock and wood carving.

travisfimmel1And he’s falling for Kate. Who lives in this tiny apartment above her boutique.

Kate's Apartment4So while I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo, I will be writing. I’ll be participating in a writing challenge along with other members of my writing peeps, The Saskatchewan Romance Writers. They’re an awesome bunch. And November is the perfect time to get some writing in before all the Christmas festivities start. Although I’m Canadian and therefore have already celebrated Thanksgiving. Some of you will have to write and cook a turkey.

When Kate Meets Seth…

Kate’s quick scan started at his scarred work boots, past cargo pants with more pockets then she had good intentions, she lifted a brow, and not in favor, at his Pearl Jam t-shirt. Great hair. Six feet plus in height. His stance made it clear he didn’t give a crap about any of it which added a little bit of wild to the Mr. Long and Broad look he had going on. Her fingers twitched. That made her nervous. And nervous didn’t project the right image.

“Can I help you?” She plunged into the Kate Logan act. Relished the comfort of the fit. The shaky Kate disappeared behind a raised brow and the strut that had made her famous.

My second Aspen Lake novel is taking shape. Happy writing, Everyone!

 

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A Sneak Introduction to Off The Grid, My Next Endeavor

Well, my edits are back in the hands of my lovely editor. I have a feeling Off The Grid is this close to preliminary gallery territory. Yay! I’m so excited about this story. Besides creating (hopefully) engaging characters, I loved exploring the widening gap between the rich and the poor in this one. Off The Grid takes place in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, which has long been dubbed Canada’s poorest postal code. My heroine, Dr. Sophie Monroe, is a Doctor for a Downtown Eastside clinic and an activist. Caleb Quinn is a Family Law lawyer, ranked one of Canada’s Top Lawyers Under 40.

Working Blurb for Off The Grid

A committed doctor to Vancouver’s inner city, nothing fazes Sophie Monroe. Until a pregnant teenager shows up at her clinic on Christmas Eve requesting sanctuary and claiming the baby’s father is one of the city’s most influential businessmen. One who has threatened to do whatever it takes to safeguard his reputation. Sophie is in over her head and thankful when aid shows up in the form of an attorney who’s a little too confident and a lot too sexy.  

All Family Law expert Caleb Quinn wants is a date. One chance to prove he isn’t the elitist jerk Sophie assumes. Helping deliver a baby is not what he has in mind. But before long protecting a traumatized teenage mother and her son become his first priority. Even if saving them pits him against the baby’s father, a childhood friend. A man who will do anything to keep his dark side private.

But justice never comes cheap. Will doing the right thing cost Sophie and Caleb their reputations? Or their lives? 

The First Paragraph

Dr. Sophie Monroe lifted her face to the cold sting of falling snow. The flakes cooled her heated cheeks. Their fresh scent cleansed her mind of the day’s battles. On the ground it covered the everyday debris of crack vials and castoff condoms. Litter from the urgent business dealings conducted in the shadowed alley behind her clinic. In the waning light of the gathering storm she studied the dark doorways relieved to find them empty.

A Look At Who Inspired The Leading Characters

I feel bad that I don’t know the name of the gorgeous guy from The Bay flyer. I was struggling finding a real life image of the hero in my head but the minute I saw this flyer I knew.

Diable CodyThis is Diablo Cody who, among many other accomplishments, wrote the screenplay for Juno.

There you have it. I was getting too excited not to share. Can’t wait to share more, like cover reveals and release dates! Here’s to surviving Monday and the last days of summer.

 

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Fifty Shades of Success

As a romance writer I’m thrilled when readers outside of my genre give it a try. I’m especially thrilled, of course, when they’re surprised by how much they enjoy it. I’m continually surprised by friends who have never before considered reading a romance have read Fifty Shades of Grey. I remember reading at one point that E.L. James sells two books every second. Or did, perhaps that was during the height of the consumer rush. All I can say is, wow! Call me crazy but I’m pretty sure that classifies as a success story.

I won’t bother to explain who E.L. James is or what her Fifty Shades books are about. I can’t imagine anyone not knowing. What interests me is why readers who’ve never ventured into the erotic or erotic romance genre flocked to stores and catapulted her and her stories into the spotlight.

I’m not going to comment on the quality of the writing. E.L. James has sold a gazillion books, I’ve sold…less than that amount. And who am I to say what the well-written word looks like. I’m still trying to figure it out for myself. I will say there were parts I loved and some I loved less. That’s generally the way it works when I read most books. I’m one of those readers who likes to read the book of the moment. As a writer, I thinks it’s important to keep track of what’s selling. And why.

It’s my job as a writer, one who wants to increase her readership, to figure out what I can learn from her books and the book buying climate. What is it about this story that sells books? What is it about Christain Grey and Anatasia Steele that sells books. Is it the sexual component? Curiousity? The cover? The ideal fantasy? And how much of it is marketing?

Here’s what I took away from Fifty Shades of Grey.

Memorable Characters: First and foremost characters over plot sell books. They’re the reason we love a book. In literary and genre fiction. The most carefully contrived plot fails is the characters are cardboard cutouts. Who gives a crap about the world building if the characters suck. You don’t have to like them, but you do have to feel strongly about them. If the characters are flat the story isn’t as captivating. Today’s heroes and heroines are smart. They push to survive. Contemporary characters need modern dilemmas. They may not want it all but they want it BIG. They dig deep for the courage to live big and maintain ideals.

Emotion: Emotional Rewards per Page and Reader Experience. I remember a guest blog post written for the new defunct Prairie Chicks Write Romance by a gentleman, Vince Mooney, who had studied the romance genre and gave us a look into what makes Nora Roberts’ writing so popular. It really is worth the time it takes to read the post. In romance the ending is no surprise. The appeal is in the journey. When we write we need to think in terms of reader experience and what that means on every page. Living big takes huge emotion. It takes courage, passion and commitment; success and failure; sacrifice, forgiveness and humility.

Voice: It’s what starts that coveted promotion tool known as word-of-mouth. It’s that nebulous thing that either appeals or it doesn’t. It resonates subconsciously. Voice is, of course, subjective in it’s appeal. But as with emotion so it is with voice. Go big or go home. If the author holds nothing back in terms of how she/he tells the story it shows on the page.

Of course, these three things are subjective but books with these qualities have mass market appeal as there are certain qualities that appeal to us all. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not going to plant myself in my writing chair and try and churn out a story that’s only appeal is marketability. I am saying that there is inspiration to be found in other’s successes. Something to be learned from the works of others whether we liked the story or not. Objectivity is a skill we use in critiquing others pre-published works. It’s also plays a part in improving our own skills.

 

Do you read bestsellers? Are you influenced by the book of the moment? Do you feel writers can learn valuable insight into the publishing climate by studying bestsellers in your genre?

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If Character Archetypes Were Cupcakes

I love cupcakes, especially those fantastically decorated concoctions you find in bake shops all over the place nowadays. They’re selling like hotcakes. ha. All kinds of colors and flavors. And like crayons and paint come with some pretty imaginative names. On a short shopping trip last winter I discovered a mall kiosk called Once Upon a Cupcake. I snacked on the Snow White, a delicious coconut topped vanilla cupcake. But I could have had Prince Charming.

What if we created our own designer cupcakes based on Character Archetypes? However we develop our characters, whatever methods we use, they are the most important part of any story. The Archetypes mentioned here come from Tami Cowden’s Archetypes for Writers and Readers Workshop. Any well developed character is multifaceted. But everything is based on something. We decide the why.

Chase Porter – The Warrior Archetype – Salted Dark Chocolate topped with Silver Icing.

The WARRIOR: a noble champion, he acts with honor…

Lily Wheeler – The Nurturer – Raspberry Vanilla with Cream Cheese Frosting and Pink Sprinkles

The NURTURER: serene and capable, she nourishes the spirit…

Seth Stone – The Lost Soul – Black Forest Cake topped with a Chocolate Mousse Icing

The LOST SOUL: a sensitive being, he understands…

Kate Logan – The Boss – Lemon Meringue with Lemon Butter Cream Icing

The BOSS: a real go-getter, she climbs the ladder of success…

Caleb Quinn – The Charmer – Caramel Apple Flavored Cupcake with Chocolate Mouse Icing

The CHARMER: more than a gigolo, he creates fantasies…

Sophie Monroe – The Crusader – Chocolate Cupcake with Mint Butter Cream Icing

The CRUSADER: a dedicated fighter, she meets her commitments…

Tami Cowden’s Archetypes for Writers and Readers Workshop is worth checking out. Also, check out this article to delve into character archetypes from a different angle.

Do you have a favorite type of hero? Heroine? What cupcake would you choose?

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My Thoughts on Jane Eyre

I don’t claim to be a lover of classic literature, more intrigued by it than anything, as my time spent with it has been brief. But I am an advocate of expanding the reading experience. If you can do it with a group of other readers I figure all the better. I’ve always wanted to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and now I can claim I have thanks to our Carnivalesque Summer Reading Challenge.

Hayley, Jana, and I are sharing our final thoughts over at Hayley‘s blog.

However, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here as well. Let me start off by saying it was a slow go. It took me literally the whole summer. Although, that largely has to do with our house being in a state of chaos due to main floor renovations. My favorite reading spot was dismantled for two months and…

Okay, enough with the excuses.

I still don’t know what I think of it. Having said that, I did enjoy it and most importantly it made me think.

Setting:  The mid 18th century is not a time period I’m familiar with nor read in. I’m assuming Charlotte Bronte lived in the time period she wrote in. So, contemporary for her and historical for me. I don’t know if that makes a difference or not.  It’s an interesting thought, though. Authors write historicals, but is it the same?

I don’t know. It’s something I’m going to have to give more thought to. I do know Bronte’s style and voice struck a cord with me. I had no problem envisioning the various places Jane found herself in. Bronte’s way with description has inspired me to think even harder about how I use words.

Jane:  I wonder how ‘feminist’ this literature seemed at the time? A story about a young woman who largely succeeds due to her own ingenuity and strength. She’s no shrinking violet. Even though she receives an inheritance that gives her the power to greatly better her circumstances I like to think she’d have succeeded without it. I admired her strong sense of faith, and her steadfast sense of right and wrong. I wondered where she managed to amass all her courage. For someone who has received little to no affection, she manages to be very together. There were times I found it impossible to believe she was eighteen years old. However, I found it impossible not to root for her. Damn it, I wanted that happy ending for her so bad and I’m so glad she got it. Without losing any of the qualities that made her so special and that set her apart: her wit, her common sense, and her values.

Mr. Rochester:   I’m a contemporary romance writer. I love my modern day heroes. I’ll say this: he was very human. The best thing about reading books with others is sharing opinions. You can read some of ours here. This proved helpful and I was very interested in what others had to say about Rochester. There were times when I didn’t know what to make of this guy. Did I like him? I’ll say this, by the end I saw him differently then when we were first introduced. I’m now a fan of redeemed heroes. I believe he loved Jane with his whole heart and that she was the one woman for him. I saw a man who tried to do the right thing and then was burdened by the force of those choices. There were times when I wish he would have kept his mouth shut. Then again, the story would not have the power it does.

Am I glad I read it? Absolutely.

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Day 5 Tour Stop

 

Day 5 of my Goddess Fish Promotions from my romantic suspense, Backlash, takes me to Claire Ashgrove‘s blog, The Muse. I’m talking about the emotional journey of my characters, Chase and Lily and how that effects their happily-ever-after. Join me for a chance to win a $25 GC to Amazon.

Available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon – Print, Amazon – Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Bookstrand, All Romance Ebooks

 

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Day 3 – Virtual Book Tour for Backlash

Well, it’s Day 3 and things are going great! Today’s stop is Rogues Angels. Stop on by and read my interview. I’ll be pulling the name of one commenter at the end of the tour to win a $25 GC from Amazon! So, don’t forget to include your email address with your comment.

 

What he’s sworn to protect, she’s willing to sacrifice to save those she loves…

 

 

Purchasing information here: Books.

Because one commenter wanted to know who I picture playing my main characters in a movie version! For your viewing pleasure…

 

 

Meet Constable Chase Porter

 

 

 

 

 

And Lily Wheeler!

 

 

 

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