Romance Writers Weekly: All in the Name of Research-Locations

Welcome to Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Tour. A.S. Fenichel provided our topic for the week! What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in the name of “researching a book?”

largeI’ve been fairly active all my life. I can ride a horse, shoot a gun, ski down mountains, and have gone scuba diving with sharks. I loved sailing as a kid, prefer hiking outside to the Stairmaster at the gym, and have finished 2 triathlons. I’ve worked on a road crew, as a loader at UPS, as a waitress, at the Massachusetts Statehouse, at the United Nations in Geneva, and in tall skyscrapers for huge corporations. My experiences help me with my writing, but most of them came long before I’d decided to be a writer. I’ve never decided to climb a mountain for a book.

I’m very efficient at computer research, but when it comes to locations, I prefer visiting. There is nothing like taking in not only the sights and sounds of a foreign culture, but also the attitudes of the people. The physical push of a crowd on the Champs Elysee in Paris, the smell of spilled beer at a beer garden in Munich, the style of the people of Tokyo, and the tranquility of the Fiji Islands.

There are very few locations I’ve written about that were not described straight from my memory. One place I never visited, however, is North Korea. My novel True Deceptions has a significant amount of scenes in the countryside there. I do not have a desire to visit North Korea, especially having published a book where businessmen are executed by the North Korean military. My research came from articles, photographs, and a study of Google maps to plan my hero and heroine’s escape.

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The second location I wrote extensively about without having visited was Columbia. I set the location of the third and final novel in the True Lies series on the property of a drug cartel in the Andes Mountains. I researched the area again by Google, but I also found many documentaries about harvesting opium for heroin. The films provided some knowledge of the sights, smells, and dangers of living in such a place.

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Future locations I’d love to visit include China, Russia, and India. I can imagine entirely new environments to explore. New tastes to discover, new sights to see, and new people to understand.

Where would you go if you had the opportunity?

Travel to J.J. Devine http://definingjjdevine.weebly.com/ramblings-of-a-writer to read about her research.

Ready for 2016? It’s coming anyway.

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I accomplished many goals in 2015. First novel published, second novel published, made PAN (a professional author designation) for the Romance Writers of America, spoke at the Debut Author Breakfast at Thrillerfest, and finished my first legal/political thriller.

The pressure is on to make 2016 even better. I made a few resolutions to make sure I keep my sanity as I increase my writing goals and take on more cases with my law practice.

  1. Do one thing at a time. I do my best work when my focus is 100% on what I’m doing, so I need to make sure to stay on task to complete one goal and then move onto something else.
  2. Every complaint requires a solution. Complaining about something is never beneficial unless I am actively searching for a solution. No solution? Then I need to move on to things I can change.
  3. Meditate everyday. I’m doing this a bit differently. Instead of sitting and saying “Omm” and thinking about all the things I need to do, I’m going to walk at least a half hour after lunch. When I’ve done this in the past, my creativity and productivity have soared in the afternoon.
  4. Practice my French and Spanish. Every year I tell myself I will practice these languages. I never do. The result is that my daughters are much better than I am in French, and one of them is also taking Spanish, sure to surpass my limited ability by the end of the school year. I’m doomed if I don’t work on my linguistic skills.
  5. Realize that everyone has the right to think what they want, even if I disagree. Different politics? A bad review? Someone hates my new shoes? Let it go. I have to focus on my goals, my family, and the issues close to my heart.

I could list more resolutions about my diet, fitness, and sleep habits, but I’m a believer in keeping things simple. Have a wonderful New Year’s celebration and may next year be your best yet!

Romance Weekly: Thanksgiving Edition

If you came from Jo Richardson http://jrrichardsonfics.wordpress.com/blog/. Fantastic. Did you check out her book

Cursed Be The Wicked? It’s about a writer coming home to Salem, with a lot to hide!

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This week we’re writing about Thanksgiving…

I was never great with school writing tasks, especially Thanksgiving essays where I needed to tell the world what I’m grateful for.

But I took on this assignment, so I shall prevail!

 

Here’s a few unique reasons that this year has been especially good…

1)   My husband’s inventive, creative side as well as his outstanding skill and bedside manner have made him one of the most sought after surgeons in his field. His work ethic is unbelievable. Seriously, I’m unsure how he does so much and can use coherent sentences at the end of the day.

2)   My children are growing up into amazing individuals. I love their company and their ability to laugh at all the absurd things life throws at them. Their inability to clean the kitchen will be discussed in another post.

3)   My dog’s tumor is benign. And the weight he gained while recuperating is forcing me to exercise more.

4)   I’m published. Three books have hit the Amazon “stacks” in 2014. Two with my sometime writing partner Susan Scott Shelley. We made a few lists along the way, but even more important, we’ve gained a few fans. Next year, Susan and I are publishing a few books separately. Read her, she’s awesome!

5)   My parents are about to celebrate fifty years together. And fifty years of traveling the world together. They are not only healthy this year, but they’re tearing their way across the golf courses of Southern Florida.

6)   My brother’s business is thriving, and his wife loves her job where she truly makes a difference to kids in the classroom and at her house every day. And her ability to live with my brother makes her a saint (I lived with him for 16 years…I know).

7)   Snow on ski slopes.

8)   Almost all music, except that song my daughter keeps playing over and over and over again.

9)   Landlines, especially when my iPhone decides it doesn’t feel like putting a call through.

10)  And chocolate…no exceptions.

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING.



Next, head on over to visit Collette Cameron – http://blueroseromance.com. She’s the author of The Earl’s Enticement. If you like historicals, you’ll love her books.

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.

A Writer’s Life. April 2014

As I rush around trying to complete a first draft for an upcoming novel, I’ve decided to give you a photo tour of my past month. It’s been crazy, but crazy good.

April started with the Washington Romance Writers Retreat. What a fantastic time. Highlights included Liliana Hart’s keynote address, Cathy Maxwell’s encouraging speech, and Romance Jeopardy with a Steampunk theme.

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My critique partner and writing partner Susan Scott Shelley (The woman above in the large blue hat!) spent the month working on edits for our novella, “Tackled By The Girl Next Door.” We have so much fun writing together. I hope our laughter and smiles show up on the page! It’s scheduled to be published by the Wild Rose Press in the end of October.

On April 30th, I spent a fun morning hanging out with authors at Lady Jane’s Salon with Susan Scott ShelleyKate ForestPenni McGee DePaul, and many others. A local news station interviewed the authors about our upcoming releases. Thank you Susan for giving the interviewer our blurb for “Tackled By The Girl Next Door.” I was too tongue tied.

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And to start off the month of May with a bang, I attended a workshop with Margie Lawson sponsored by the Valley Forge Romance Writers. I immediately went home and rewrote pages and pages of text to make the words more creative, interesting, and compelling. Thanks Margie, your lectures always push me to improve my craft.

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