Romance Weekly: Characters, Inspiration, and Plot Holes

‘Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all….. About our writing of course! 

If you’ve come from Tessa Gray’s blog, welcome. If not, go back…  http://www.tessagray.comWomen’s Fiction author, Tessa Gray, writes stories set in the tiny West Texas town of Alpine. Check out her newest release. But come right back!!!

Tessa Gray

 

 

This week’s questions are brought to us from Jeanne McDonald.

1. How did you go about choosing the names for your characters?

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The minds and personalities of my characters form long before I name them. My daughters or the name generator on Scrivener offer me the most character names. Occasionally, I look up popular names in certain years to find something that’s not too far fetched for the age of the person I’m writing about. I’m rarely tied to a name. On certain occasions, my character’s names have changed by the time I’ve written half the story. Family and friend names are mostly avoided, especially if that character will be having sex on the page or will be killed. This helps me avoid awkward Christmas parties.

 

2. Where did the inspiration for your current book come from?

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You could say that I pitched my way to my new series. The seed of an idea for the series came from my very first pitch to an agent. I had planned two books about sisters and the agent suggested I add a third sister because three of anything is better than two. The problem was I had already completed the first book and didn’t know where to put her. I made her estranged and shipped her off to Paris to deal with later.

As I wrote the second book, I obsessed about the third sister. Why was she in Paris? What was she like? A Bostonian blueblood by birth, the character had black hair and an edgy personality. She loved art, but wasn’t an artist. I named her Alex. When I completed the second book, I dove into her story.

An agent at a different pitch session at a different conference suggested I focus on the hero’s brother for the sequel instead of the sisters, because romance readers tend to follow male characters more than female characters. I wrote his story and then his best friend’s story afterward to give me that magical third book. I placed the original two books on the sisters in storage for a while.

Ironically, an editor I pitched at a conference gave me the title of Alex’s story Untrue Colors.

The brother centric series, led by Alex my heroine, just sold to Entangled Publishing. The moral is that listening to agents and editors’ suggestions at pitch sessions can help add the magic ingredients that take a manuscript from the slush pile and turn it into a sale.

 

3. What methods do you use to ensure you have no plot holes (journal, storyboard, outline, editor, etc.)?

plot holes

I plot before I write, but I usually rewrite the plot toward the end, because I’ve missed some poignant fact that screws up the entire story. More important, I rely on critique partners and beta readers to find my plot holes. They’re good and not afraid to completely challenge my story. I’ve had eye color wrong, dates wrong, and once I wrote a story about Delphi when I meant Delhi. In other words, I need help. A CP once told me my heroine would never whine in the dire situation I’d placed her in, and my hero wouldn’t be such a jerk to her. I rewrote the scenes, because she was right and the book is better now.

 

The next stop on the blog hop is Daphne and Golden Pen winner Susan Scott Shelley. http://www.susanscottshelley.com/#!blog/c1cod. She’s not only an amazing writer, but she’s insane enough to be my critique partner and has endured writing some novellas with me as well! Our first published work is “Tackled by the Girl Next Door,” published by The Wild Rose Press in October 2014.Tackled by the Girl Next Door

Romance Weekly

‘Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all….. About our writing of course! Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask us questions in the comment box.

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Have you come from www.kimhandysides.com ? Welcome. If you missed her blog post, GO BACK!!!! Her answers are great.

This week’s questions from the lovely Tessa Gray.

 

1.   Do any characters you’ve written into your books remind you of yourself? Explain which ones and why.

Most of my female heroines have personalities and traits I’d love to possess, but don’t. One is a computer expert, one speaks over twenty foreign languages, and another has an expert understanding of firearms. I’m horrible with computers, as many who tried to post on my site last week learned. My foreign language expertise consists of broken French, broken Spanish, and the ability to order a beer in German. As a romantic suspense writer, I should know all about firearms, but I have trouble remembering the difference between a 9mm weapon and .38 caliber one. I’m getting better with all three things, but my characters are masters in their fields.

My heroines embark on adventures to foreign countries and strange situations and meet people who challenge them in everyway. I’ve lived in some of those foreign countries, but most of the danger they’ve experienced are beyond any danger I’ve come across in my life. I strive to make their adventures interesting to me and, hopefully, by extension to other readers.

 

2.   Was there a teacher or mentor in your life who helped nurture your writing? 

My mother has been a huge influence on my writing. She’s never doubted my abilities or questioned whether I could succeed. She’s also a wonderful role model. She takes on mountainous tasks and succeeds beyond expectations, whether it’s building a school from the ground up, taking a hobby in photography and making it into a successful business, or tutoring kids who have nothing and making them believe they can succeed against overwhelming odds. She has a never give up attitude and that makes all the difference when trying to become published. With her on my side, nothing is impossible.

Supermom

 

3. Every author has that moment when they doubt their ability to write. When that happens to you, how do you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and continue? What do you do to inspire YOURSELF?    

When I decided to write full-time, I had to let go of certain fantasies about writing. Writing is not an activity I do while sitting calmly with a cup of coffee and creating wonderful stories inspired by the Monarch butterfly that landed on my finger in the middle of a garden on a sunny day. Although there are times when my stories form in my mind with the precision of a 3D action sequence, more times than not, I must kick and prod and yank the stories from my subconscious.

I also find that given the choice, I’d rather go for a walk or play with my kids than write five sentences when I have no inspiration. Why? Because writing is difficult and making something interesting and fun to read takes major brain power. Instead of procrastinating, however, I sit at my desk and write, not everyday, but very close to everyday. Some days are wonderful and others are wretched journeys into depression, but I write anyway. Soon, I have a decent story that requires even more work to make better and then more work to become worthy of posting to the world.

The secret to getting over a bad day of writing is to continue writing until I have a good day. The more I write, the more good days I have.

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Thanks for stopping by. Head over to http://definingjjdevine.weebly.com/ramblings-of-a-writer and

J.J. Devine.

Another #LoveWriteChat

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Welcome to the Romance Weekly blog hop! I’m taking the baton from the awesome Victoria Barbour http://victoriabarbour.com/blog. If you missed her, bounce back!!

The Passionate Kisses Boxed Set includes 10 Sizzling Contemporary Romances. Victoria’s contribution to the anthology includes: AGAINST HER RULES.

Elsie Walsh has one rule—no sleeping with the guests at her luxury inn on the rugged coast of Newfoundland—but Scottish playboy Campbell Scott is determined to show her that he belongs not only in her bed, but by her side at the Heart’s Ease Inn.

Don’t tell anyone, but I think it’s on sale now.

Here are my answers:

  1. How do you respond to someone calling your writing smut or demeaning your work in some other way?

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I don’t respond. People who insult the romance genre will rarely be convinced to read and enjoy it. Instead, I focus on finding the people who will enjoy my work.

Writers need extremely thick skin. We pour stories onto paper and hope someone appreciates them. And most of the time, that happens, but the words don’t always reach a friendly audience.

Do the insults sting? Yes. I wish they didn’t, but I’m human and I have this strange desire for everyone to like me. It helps if I remember that taste in reading material is subjective. Not everyone wants to read Stephen King and not everyone wants to read Jane Austen. Some people prefer comics to novels and others won’t read a book unless it has been awarded a Pulitzer. The key for me is sending out my books to readers who will enjoy them.

The occasional, but brutal comments from people who don’t like reading my chosen genre are softened by readers who truly enjoy my stories After winning several writing contests in the past year and selling most of my finished manuscripts to publlishers, I’m confident I’ve found my audience.

 

  1. When critiquing or beta reading, do you ever find the voice of the other author creeping into your writing?


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Yes? Although my voice is strong enough to dominate most scenes that I write, I allow another writer’s voice to infect my writing when it fits my manuscript.

I’ve had critique partners or beta readers suggest changes to my words that have not been in my voice, but nevertheless made the scene much stronger. I care about making my stories as solid as possible and sometimes that means accepting suggestions.

In addition to my own novels, I co-write novellas with my critique partner Susan Scott Shelley. When we write together, our writing blends in a unique way. I have no idea how it happens, because our individual voices are very different. Her writing voice is amazing. She writes powerful characters, beautiful descriptions, and sensual scenes. She has the ability to take a scene I write and ramp it up to another level.

When critiquing each other, however, we respect each other’s individuality and work to provide feedback that doesn’t alter what makes our voices different. I’ve tried to incorporate some of the lyrical flow she creates so effortlessly in her stories and I think my manuscripts are better because of it.

 

  1. What’s one quirky thing you do or must have around you while writing?

As I write a manuscript, I give myself permission to jump onto social media whenever I need a break. I try to write six plus hours per day and it can be mentally exhausting. A quick break can relax my mind enough to carry me through a tough scene or even provide me some inspiration.

 

Okay, you have my answers. Now hop on over to Rhenna Morgan http://rhennamorgan.com/romance-weekly-lovechatwrite-6/ and see what she has to say! If you want to help her select the cover for her new book, Unexpected Eden, pop over to Smexy Books and cast your vote. I’m not telling you which one I voted for!

#LoveWriteChat

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‘Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you came to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all….. About our writing of course! Every week we’ll answer questions and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask us questions in the comment box.

Welcome.

This is my first week on this blog with such an amazing group of writers. Kim Handysides http://kimhandysides.com was the previous stop. If you missed her, swing back around or you’ll miss an amazing picture of Jake Gyllenhaal. 

When writing your novel, do you know how it’s going to end before you write, or do you write from start to finish?

I plot and plot and plot my ideas. In the middle of the story, I completely change my direction and my plot, but I’m usually in a good place by then and the changes make the story better.

I have one manuscript I’m currently tearing apart and moving the end to the middle and making the middle the end. The change strengthens the motivations of the characters and brings the book to a more satisfying end.

How do the people you know impact your writing? Are you influenced by friends and family for your characters?

Everything in life influences my writing. I especially love watching how people treat others in good times and bad. Some are genuine, some are self-centered, and there are people who will appear helpful, but would rather slit a friend’s throat than let him get ahead in life.

I never use a real person as inspiration for a character. The character comes from a bundle of personality traits, emotions, and personal backstory. Any similarities are purely coincidental!!!

Describe the hero in your current WIP in three words.

Dane is the hero I’m working with on my current manuscript. He’s handsome, loyal, and deadly. Although he’s hesitant to become the hero of this book, he easily out matches my most Alpha hero from my last book. And gives him a bloody lip, just to prove who’s now in control.

Let’s get another perspective and see what Rhenna Morgan has to say about her writing process, especially the part about finding ideas at Target- I’m going shopping there this afternoon to find my own inspiration!

Rhenna Morgan http://rhennamorgan.com/blog/

And please remember how much we love your comments.

SOLD TO ENTANGLED PUBLISHING!

I just signed a contract with Entangled Publishing for three of my romantic thrillers. This is a dream come true!

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Thank you so much to Terese Ramin, Editorial Director of Entangled Ignite, for believing in these stories; Susan Scott Shelley, my critique partner extraordinaire, and my awesome group of beta readers for helping to whip the manuscripts into shape; and Michelle Grajkowski, my agent, a fantastic partner on this crazy journey.

And thanks to McDreamy who encouraged me even after I cancelled the lease on my law office and moved a desk into the sunroom to write everyday. And my two daughters who read all of the appropriate chapters and told me where they were bored and how to make it more interesting.

Baton Blog Hop: My Writing Process

Veronica Forand Romance Writer

The wonderful Kristin Contino, invited me to be part of a Baton Blog Hop. Each writer involved answers four questions and then passes the baton on to another person. I’m receiving the baton from Kristin Contino. Her debut novel, THE LEGACY OF US, will be published by Sparkpress in September. It’s a wonderful journey in the lives of the women in one family through three generations.

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

Susan Scott Shelley and I are preparing to publish a novella, TACKLED BY THE GIRL NEXT DOOR published by The Wild Rose Press this October. We’re in the “Oh my God, we have to promote this thing?” stage of the process, but we’re a good team and have been learning about marketing books from our friends who have published before us.

Last week, I finished the third novel in my Truth series. It’s been sent to my beta readers and will hopefully be at a publisher at the end of the month. I have another book in the series that requires a full overhaul. It should take a month to whip it into shape and then I’m starting a new romantic suspense series about three brothers and the women who bring them to their knees.

Susan and I are finishing our third novella together and have started plotting the fourth. I love plotting sessions with her, because our imaginations run in opposite directions and create amazing storylines.

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

My characters, especially the female ones, are often hampered by society or their family’s expectations or lack of expectations for them. I love stripping characters down to their true selves and having them become who they were meant to be. Authenticity is a real issue for me.

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

My writing style does not include long descriptions or narratives. It tends to jump between dialogue and actions with enough narrative and description to keep the plot moving. Romantic suspense fits that style of writing.

My tendency to be a wise ass bleeds onto the page. In some cases, I create the most unlikeable characters ever. If there is a contest for characters people hate the most, some of the earlier versions of my characters would win (ask some of the contest judges for my earliest manuscripts). Making characters that are real and not Disneyesque versions of people or characters you don’t want to slap up side the head is a challenge, but I love challenges.

The novellas I write with Susan are fun, fast, and full of action. Our voices aren’t similar, but very complimentary. We combine our styles to create really interesting storylines and cool characters.

HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?

I usually start with a character I obsess over, often for months. Finding a partner for that character also takes time.

Creating the plot is fun. It sometimes takes days, weeks, and an army of friends to keep a plot moving in a believable direction. I love when all the pieces of a story are linked together in a cohesive manner. I tend to redo the plot when I hit the middle after I run into logic problems or find myself becoming bored. If I don’t like the story, no one else will.

When writing, I try to complete about 2,000 words per day. I spend my mornings revising what I’ve written the day before. Each scene is edited about five times before I finish the book.

I rely heavily on my critique partner (Susan!) to catch flaws in my logic and confusing issues in the book. When she’s finished, I send it out to my beta readers.

So that’s all about me! Next week, I’m passing the baton to my critique partner/writing partner Susan Scott Shelley.

TRIPLE DAPHNE FINALIST!!!

WOW! I’m excited to have three manuscripts in the finals this year, and even more excited because one of the manuscripts was co-written with Susan Scott Shelley. 

The DAPHNE DU MAUIER AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MYSTERY/SUSPENSE –Unpublished Division Finalists for 2014 are:

CATEGORY (SERIES) ROMANTIC MYSTERY/SUSPENSE

Veronica Forand and Susan Scott Shelley for Dangerous Play

Jeannie Hall for Violation of Innocence

Annette Keuning for Trust No One

Kairee Krause w/a Kairee Taylor for Secrets Wait

Jo-Ann Terpstra w/a Jo-Ann Carson for Covert Danger

HISTORICAL ROMANTIC MYSTERY/SUSPENSE

Marlene Dunsheath for Game of Chance

Jane Fox for Broken Treaties

Cheryl Honigford for The Darkness Knows

Alison Jill McMahan for The Saffron Crocus

Rosemarie Simonelli w/a Kate Colbert for The Pickpocket

INSPIRATIONAL ROMANTIC MYSTERY/SUSPENSE

Jackie Layton for Kentucky Deadly

Carolyn Miller for Unscarring Hearts

PARANORMAL (FANTASY/TIME TRAVEL/FUTURISTIC) ROMANTIC MYSTERY/SUSPENSE

Margaret A. Golla for Air Beneath a Dragon’s Wings

Janet Halpin for A Moment After Dark

Janet Halpin for Beryl Blue, Time Cop

Sarah Kuest w/a Sarah Brady and Shannen Kuest w/a Shannen Brady for Healer

Roshani Chokshi for The Glass Garden

SINGLE TITLE ROMANTIC MYSTERY/SUSPENSE

Susye Bowles for Out of Control

Veronica Forand for Untrue Beliefs

Veronica Forand for Untrue Colors

Vicki Tharp for In Her Defense

William C. Walker for The Homecoming

MAINSTREAM MYSTERY/SUSPENSE

Roxanne Dunn for Murder Unrehearsed

Barbara Gerry for Reel Power, An Annie McCabe Mystery

Barbara Nickless for White Line Fever

Christa Selnick for The Kill List

Tami Wirth for The Messenger

Winners will be announced during KOD’s annual Death by Chocolate Party at the RWA® National Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the contest and to all our wonderful judges as well as our very hard-working coordinators.

For any questions, please feel free to contact me at: daphnecontest@gmail.com

Congratulations Finalists!

Brooke Wills

2014 Daphne Contest Overall Coordinator