I've been tagged by the lovely and talented Nicki Greenwood to participate in a blog tag. Here's how it works - Nicki tagged me and two other fabulous authors and gave us the following four questions. So today I post my answers, and tag the next people and next Monday (April 7) you stop by their blogs to check out their answers! :-) It's a fun way to share some info about myself and some fellow authors with you all and you get the chance to get a behind the scenes look at some awesome people. And... go!
What am I working on?
Hmmm, well currently I'm rewriting (and I do mean rewriting like from page one) a romantic suspense I wrote a couple years ago. It was my second novel, and was in pretty rough shape. A couple weeks ago, I cut 20,000 words from the manuscript in 2 days. It was horrendous. And when I was done, I was left with the tattered remains that didn't even resemble a book. Now I'm at the rewrites stage - rebuilding the book, splicing existing pieces together with the new stuff, and trying to make it seamless start to finish. It's been... um fun. Right, fun. That's the word for it.
Here's a bit more on Los Diablos - Reporter Eva Ramirez is determined to find her brother’s killer. Undercover cop Diego Lopez is desperate to stop his ex-love from uncovering his involvement in her brother’s murder and getting them both killed.
As fire reignites between them, they soon discover if they don’t work together and trust each other, they’ll both wind up in dumpsters behind Lucky’s Bar.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Ooh, this is a fun one. Let's see... with my erotic romances, I really like to focus on a good external plotline, which I think is missing from a lot of other books in this genre. I like to have a lot going on in my books. It's one of the reasons I usually write long novels.
My first was An Affair Across Times Square (right) and amid this incredibly sexy voyeuristic relationship between Layla and Tyler, there was also an intriguing murder trial and subsequent mystery to solve which helped create conflict and craziness in the book.
In the sequel, An Engagement in Paris, (left) I have Mandy and Julien pitted on opposite sides of the marriage battle - he wants to get married, she thinks she doesn't, but agrees anyway, and as the day inches closer and her family descends upon them, she panics.
With my holiday story Spicy with a Side of Cranberry Sauce (left) Amy and Mason are instantly attracted to each other and then thrown together in this impossible situation - a holiday with their families.... during which his mother and her father begin dating. So it's not just their relationship bubble, but a lot of family dynamics and Turkey Day chaos which help make things a little crazy.
In Queen of Hearts (right) Erica and Maya have a one night stand. Later, when Erica is in trouble of losing her business, she realizes she ran out on the one woman who might actually be able to help her. It's the pressure of failure that breaks through her barriers and forces her to accept Maya's help.
My newest one, Break(Through) the Ice is all about Jasmine and Vince battling the elements (and the gossip) to be together. The Adirondack Camp they're in is just as much a character as they are, and that adds a nice element of suspense and danger to the book, which I love. :-)
Why do I write what I do?
Because sex sells. :-p No but seriously, I love romance novels. I've loved them since I was sixteen. While my reading in the genre was paranormal and I still enjoy a lot about that genre, erotic romance is so much fun to write. Can't think of a plot point? Write a sex scene. Stuck on why the character hates himself? Sex scene. Want to make the couple's relationship get screwed up in no time flat? Sex scene! Need them to make up? Sex Scene. Can't reveal who the killer is yet? Sex SCENE! Need more time for them to fall in love SEX SCENE! :-)
I know that sounds really basic, or like I'm filling my book with sex because I can't write the book or don't want to work on the hard (or not so hard) stuff but because the sex, aside from being fun, is an integral part of the storyline. When you write historicals, your characters cannot be having sex on page thirty. You have to slowly build that kind of relationship and there are chaperones and rules of propriety and all kinds of things. When you write erotic romance, you don't have to worry about that, but you do have to worry about keeping things exciting. If your characters are geting busy on page thirty, and then again on page sixty-five, and one-hundred, etc. you better make sure that the scenes escalate, and that they're not random or erroneous. I love making sex an intricate part of the building romance and sometimes it even helps stave off the romance, because sometimes (like with Tyler & Layla) it's just sex in the beginning and then slowly they develop feelings for each other. It's wonderful to watch that unfold.
How does your writing process work?
Oi - um, this is a hard one to answer because it's different for every book. The things that are the same for me are the basics:
- I have to build real three-dimensional characters. That usually means photographs (I use a lot of models or actors for this), their main personality traits (including their astrological sign or exact birth date because that helps me build a full character), a background of their childhood and major events in their lives (death of a parent or sibling, abuse, past lost loves) and basically their damage. Perfect or completely well adjusted characters are boring and also useless in a romance plot because if they're perfect alone, why would they want or need a life partner or romantic attachments.
- I have to have an external plot line - sometimes it's a paranormal or suspense/mystery plot, sometimes it's a little less involved. I just finished a BDSM book in which the heroine is on a deadline with a book and has to get the research done and write the book before the deadline, and I have a hero who is in danger of losing his business, his house, and basically every he's worked his entire adult life for. So the stakes have to be high - sometimes my emotional stakes are high, sometimes it's the physical stakes like in the WIP where Diego and Eva are in mortal danger.
As for the process itself, sometimes it starts with a scene in my head with two people and I build everything off that. Sometimes it's a person or character. Sometimes it's an overall concept like "our parents are dating" or "instant enemies" or other kinds of tropes like that.
I almost always create a plot using the 3-Act Plotting Method that Alexandra Sokoloff talks about on her blog about using screenwriting tricks to plot your book. And I usually have a visual layout of the main setting in a very basic, ugly, disproportionate drawing (because I have no artistic ability whatsoever) which helps me figure out what's where in a scene.
I like to write a "dirty draft" after I've done the plotting, some of the research, and the character backgrounds. Inevitably somewhere in the draft I realize that something isn't going to work or that a character happens to have done something in their past which I didn't know until I reached the midpoint climax and then I make notes to go back and fix it after I finish the draft. It usually takes me 1-2 weeks to do the research/plotting/character background stuff and 2-6 weeks to write the draft (depending on the length and topic of the book) and then I let it rest for at least a week and get the real life stuff done that I've been ignoring while fully immersed in the book like grocery shopping and seeing my family. And then I re-read the book, start to finish, without making any changes and I use these mini sticky notes and take notes on everything I need to change, the main characters, and important info I need. Then I start making those changes and when I finish doing one, I get to rip the sticky note off the notebook page, crumple it up, and throw it away. It's VERY satisfying. :-)
And that's it. Me, my books, and my writing in a (very large) nutshell!
Thanks so much for the Tag, Nicki!
And now it's my turn to tag some people. I have chosen two great authors to tag and I can't wait to see their answers next week! Check em out:
Stephanie Wytovich: Stephanie M. Wytovich is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, a book reviewer for Nameless Magazine, and a well-known coffee addict. She is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and a graduate fom Seton Hill University’s MFA program for Writing Popular Fiction. Her poetry collection, HYSTERIA, can be found at www.rawdogscreaming.com. Follow Wytovich at stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com and on twitter @JustAfterSunset.
Priscilla Kissinger: Priscilla A Kissinger is a three-time Golden Heart finalist who writes contemporary romance with a Latino flavor. A single mom with three daughters, Priscilla recently earned an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. During the day she works as an administrator at a major university, and she spends her free time writing, reading, playing tennis, training for half marathons, watching sports and singing karaoke with her family.
You can find out more about her at www.prisakiss.com, follow her on Twitter with @prisakiss or catch her blogging on www.peanutbutteronthekeyboard.com
So be sure to stop by and check out Stephanie and Priscilla's answers on Monday April 7 at stephaniewytovich.blogspot.com & www.ghfirebirds.com