Divas of Desire

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Does #Romance Require #Research? #Writing

Good morning, friends. Nona Raines here. I'm proud to be a romance author. Unfortunately, romance writing is often downplayed as not being "real writing." When it comes to fiction genres, ours tends to be looked down upon as Cinderella sitting in the ashes. Never mind that ours is the top selling genre of fiction. And sadly, too often romance writers are not looked upon as "real" authors. But we work hard at our craft, and it also involves a good amount of research. Today I want to share some of my adventures in research.

*No, I don't mean that kind of research, LOL.* Kindly get your mind out of the gutter! :-) Though truthfully, I've been known to research sexy topics when trying to spice up a love scene.

In my first book, One Good Man, the heroine was a librarian. For the character of Andie I used my own career in public librarianship to guide me. 
For more on One Good Man, please go here.

For other books, I've had to research my characters' careers. I've also researched locations, cities, and landmarks. Having friends and family who live in certain spots can be very helpful.  Good old Google is your friend. Google Maps and Google Earth can be very helpful when trying to get the "real feel" of a place.

You can go old skool and use books, as long as they are up to date.  Sometimes even an out of date book can give you insight into how the job has changed through the years. Your local library is a great resource and if it doesn't own a copy of the book you need, can often borrow a copy through interlibrary loan. Speaking of the library, let me give a shout out to the fact that internet access is available for free at most public libraries--in case a person does not have the means or the access to their own computer or modem.

But let's face, nothing beats the internet. When it comes to researching careers, you can find a lot of information. There are plenty of blogs and websites devoted to different types of careers and jobs. I found a lot of info this way when researching Emergency Medical Service personnel for No Promises.  I found not only interviews, but video as well. Even comments on blog posts can be extremely enlightening. And don't forget good old YouTube--though there you must be careful to separate the wheat from the chaff.
For more on No Promises, please go here.

But our best resource is always other people. Interviewing folks about their real life jobs is so rewarding. Talking to someone provides real insight into a person's career and relationship to it. I've found most people more than happy to share information. During my research I've interviewed several EMTs and paramedics, a highway worker, an owner of a consignment shop and a 911 operator.  If you're polite and respectful, most folks are only too happy to share. Facebook friends too can be amazingly helpful. I've quizzed a few about working retail for my current WIP.

That's about it folks. As important as research is, we authors have to be careful not to fall down the rabbit hole and get lost. At some point we have to get busy and write! :-) Delivering a good story is what it's all about.

Have a wonderful week, all!
Nona Raines

Hot Contemporary Romance
Edgy ~ Emotional ~ Erotic

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Genus or madness?

Genius or madness?

I’m sitting at my keyboard and contemplating that question. Why? Because I decided to rewrite my title Rockin’ the ’Nog.  Complete revision of the story. Why? Because I’m either a screaming genius or corkheaded and mad.

So, what happened when I first wrote ’Nog—way back when—was a small story placed in the Christmas time of Portland, OR while I was in a time of transition in my life. No, not a cancer scare specifically (as mentioned in the book) but drowning in loneliness due to the alienation I’m forced to endure in order to escape the PTSD delivered by the childhood I’ve endured, survived, and continue to process in my fiction. It’s been hard, but I’m now out of “survival” mode and into “thriving” mode.

But, back to the book. As I’ve done in the past, and will probably do in the future, I used my fiction to help me process things that are happening in my life. More, I did receive a mistaken “c*ck shot” from a buddy, who thought he was texting someone for a hook-up. HILARIOUS!! Then I put it into a book and we all laughed. (The trouble of being buddies with a fiction author. Anything interesting that crosses my plate could, and probably would, end up in a book.)

But now, four years later, ’Nog has something else to say because I have something else on my plate. That plate is full of concerns for my audience who follows my Portland Men stories and characters. Specifically, my publisher’s murmurings for a “sequel” to Ascend. (The thriller about the knife-wielding serial killer?)

Well, okay. I’ll produce a sequel but, in truth, a sequel isn’t simply “picking up where the other left off.” There is usually more, at least when I produce a sequel, because for me a story must be larger before it can encompass more time and space. So, to produce a requested sequel I needed to produce MORE.

“Backstory is dead story” so, no, I wasn’t happy to lump it into the one manuscript. (I mean, why? I’m a fiction author. When I make a story I usually put it to paper. (Why do all the work and not get paid? #justsaying.) So, I decided to sacrifice my peace of mind—and more than a bit of my sanity—to restructure and revise Rockin’ the ’Nog, now to my m/m brand with Loose ID Publishing.

Yes, there will be a romance between two characters—one who just happens to be the attorney prosecuting the criminal who tried to kill the starring characters of my Ascend—and the guy he’s been lusting after but…well, you know.

Aside that romance, please pluck a bit of the criminal’s story from ’Nog. That would have been the “backstory” of a sequel but, like I said, I loathe backstory dumps so…yeah. Anyway, enjoy the new ROCKIN’ THE ’NOG and Merry (Upcoming) Christmas! And look for the Ides of March, my St. Patrick’s Day story which is getting the same revision treatment.

After that, Ascend’s sequel. Also, btw, I’ve working on upgrades of Catching Her Balance and, also, something new. My first try at serial-type detective fiction.

I expect 2017 to be GREAT!!

Friday, October 14, 2016

I'm Getting Married Tomorrow!

Good morning Divettes,

Just a real quick post to say that I am still around, just very swamped with my very own personal real-life romance. I am marrying the man of my dreams tomorrow. It's been a whirlwind of planning and life the past few months, preparing for the big day. I, of course, got sick last week, and have had a nasty chest cold for 7 days. I'm finally feeling better, so here's hoping I'll be in tip top shape for the wedding day (and night ;-p) That would never happen in a romance novel - the bride getting sick just before her big day! Though I suppose it could be a chance for great conflict in the book! It's certainly been a hell of a thing, trying to work, and get better, and finish up all the million and one little last minute details.

But I am off now to go get ready for my rehearsal and dinner! Wish me luck!


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Quest for Erotic

There’s nothing more annoying than a know-it-all. Am I right? Worse, once again the truism of “those who can’t write, critique” is proved. Yeah, I’m a long-term reviewer and, thus, I have an opinion. About everything. “It’s what I do.”

Worse, I’m o-so-confident in myself that I put my beliefs to action and I put my hands to a keyboard to write erotic romance. I’d love to say that it was an easy thing to do, with all the history I’ve had in the romance genre, but it wasn’t. Romance itself demands a deep sense of authenticity, erotic more so.

One can talk about something, maybe even build a scene around something, but unless one is actively inside that something—now or in the past—then the reader will recognize that. Worse, they will not forgive it. No, that’s not specific to romance itself, but this hard line in the sand is often proven in the romance genre.

I remember reading a book in the 80s where the protagonists were “on the bridge to Catalina Island and…” There is no bridge. Read that again. There is NO BRIDGE TO CATALINA ISLAND. Just a nauseating two-hour boat trip that I endured twice a summer, every bloody summer, because my mother dragged me on the boats for the hellish yearly July 4th trip—this is not a therapy session. 

Anyway, as you can see I *still* remember that gaffe and, no, I don’t forgive it. But back to EroRom and the tacit contract of authenticity between reader and author.  It was that very thing that gave me pause when my (then) publisher invited me to write m/m romance. Of course I said, “Yes,” but my mental answer was, “But, I don’t have the equipment for that.” Yes, EroRom demands authenticity and not to make too fine a point on that topic, I know what it’s like to desire a someone. More, (I’ll say it) I know what it is to touch and by touched by a guy I’m attracted to.

As for the “male specific” bits of authenticity—and, yes, there is a huge difference between the male mind and the female mind—I find authenticity from what’s authentic. A guy. My buddy Brian, in fact. (So very often he sighs when faced with a question, but he’s never let me down.)

Reviews: “Such an authentic voice!”
Me: “Yeah, my guy friends give input. I’m not gonna lie.”

But then, it was a question of “do I have a character for this?” As it happens, I did. My Jeremy, bless his (fictional) heart, had threaded through my first two books based in Portland, OR. (I see a coltish awkwardness in retrospect, but learning in the public’s eye is—imho—pretty much the story of all genre authors.) So, Jeremy, a bearded and balding, chubby and 50ish dude. I wanted him to be a heel, to use a wrestling term, but he fought back.

He pushed at me, telling me he was gay and closeted. How could that be a romance hero? I thought it was me. Maybe this craft wasn’t for me? Was I doomed to only review? Then I signed up for a teaching module at Seton Hill’s WPF program, and this one was on the topic of LGBTQ romances.

(Shout out to Annie Harris!) In that module I heard an off-hand comment about how there was next to no romance characters that were less than physically perfect. You’ve seen them.  John De Bare-Chested. Joe Chisel Chest. Laura of the Perfect Bosom and Flowing Locks. The idea of writing of an imperfect character was gently addressed by Annie. Basically “why not?”

I heard Annie and I heard Jeremy, and Butterball was born, now in the hands of Loose ID publishing. (To this day, it remains my bestseller. A chubby closeted gay man is my bestseller. What were the odds of that?)

~  Michelle


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