This week we’re delving into the origin of story ideas. If you’ve come from Fiona Riplee‘s blog, welcome!
One story idea that came to me as a gift from someone else is the story of Alexandra Northrop from Untrue Colors. She was the reason the book was written.
I had written two books about wealthy sisters who must overcome huge obstacles. When I pitched them to an agent, she told me to add a third sister. Trilogies sell better. The problem? The books were already written. So I added an estranged sister in Europe. she refuses to come home. The first two books never sold. That left Alex alone in Europe, away from her family. Why?
Untrue Colors was a blast to write: Here’s an excerpt:
Alex sat in her favorite booth in the back corner of the Yellow Dog Pub with a Coke and a cup of pumpkin-and- Gruyère soup and pulled out the book Matisse, Father & Son from her backpack. One of the students she’d met offered to check out books for her from the library, and she devoured every one she could lay her hands on. She’d created a comfortable yet temporary life in Oxford. She dressed as one of the students at the university, lived at a youth hostel, and earned money by helping a pub owner clean up after closing. Still, she felt far from safe.
“Gabe, how’s the soup?” Matt, the owner, asked.
She’d become used to being called Gabe West. Gabrielle, her mother’s name, had been the only name she could think of when she’d arrived in Oxford. West reminded her that her family was across the ocean in Boston. Since moving to
Europe eight years ago, Alex had kept in sporadic contact with her family. Since meeting Luc, she’d had zero. They didn’t need to become mixed up in her problems. Luc was too dangerous.
She took a spoonful and savored the first taste of her main meal for the day. “You outdid yourself.”
“Glad to hear it.” He sat across from her, his wise blue eyes framed by laugh lines. “Listen, love, some bloke has been poking around the local pubs asking about an undocumented French art lover with a pert little nose and an air of desperation. Never did hear you speak anything but English, but thought I’d give you a heads-up.”
Her spoon dropped into the bowl, splashing some soup on the table. She clasped it again as though it was an accident and raised her eyebrows to appear interested in Matthew’s statement, but not too interested. Her body tensed, ready to run away from this sanctuary. Had they found her?
Continue on to read what Leslie Hachtel found as an idea that eventually came to light and see you next week!!!
Welcome back to the Romance Weekly Romance Blog Hop. The coolest romance writers in the business link together once a week to talk writing, life, and random stuff.
This week’s topic is from Carrie Elks –
Stephen King famously said that it’s necessary to ‘kill your darlings’ when editing your work. Do you have anything you had to remove from a book that you’re still proud of? Or something that embarrasses you so much it will never again see the light of day? If you’re feeling really brave, share some of it with us!
Did you come from Betty Bolte’s blog www.bettybolte.com/blog.htm? If not- go back. She has so many darlings in her work- it makes me cry when she cuts them.
This is one of my favorites of hers.
I started “Untrue Colors” with a completely different set of characters in mind. Alexandra Northrop was not in control of her life. In fact, she was a drunken thug at the beginning of the original version. Henry Chilton was a pompous ass. They cracked me up.
My beta readers and ultimately my editor didn’t find them as funny. So I reworked the characters and seriously, their advice was great.
But I still love this initial scene. Here’s a few paragraph’s of the great break in….
Henry Elliott Chilton, Earl of Ripon, a title only used by suck-ups and sycophants, sat in his favorite leather chair immersed in the darkness of an oak-paneled library. He preferred the title of Professor. He’d earned that title. He’d been born to the other.
Piles of exams to be graded rested on his desk along with three articles to be reviewed for The Journal of the Anthropological Society of Oxford. Despite his youth, only thirty-six and one of the youngest full professors in the department, Henry didn’t want to play cat and mouse with anyone, especially tonight. He wanted a brandy, a good book, and a down pillow. He had little time or patience for the three drunken students who seemed intent on stealing his brass fish head doorknocker.
Ripping the fish head off his front door had been deemed a rite of passage for the first year students of Worcester College. The beginning of spring tended to bring out the bravado in normally mild-mannered first years. Admittedly, he’d stolen it from his professor when he first arrived on campus, fresh out of Harrow, and every now and then the students attempted to repeat the feat. He should have taken it home to Ripon Manor, but that wouldn’t be fair to future generations of pranksters.
The clock chimed once, signaling Henry’s bedtime. “Simon,” he called out into the cold stone passages. “We seem to have a few visitors. Can you assist them please?” Simon’s presence alone intimidated even the most brazen students, if Simon chose to act as a security guard and not as the director of an action sequence.
“Right away, sir,” the answer boomed back.
Moonlight shone into Henry’s backyard like a searchlight illuminating two young men and one scrawny female with her long hair flying in all directions. Dressed in various forms of black leather and shredded blue jeans, they climbed over the small iron fence. From the look of them, they wouldn’t be successful in their quest. The two boys, one sporting a spiky blue Mohawk, glanced around and fidgeted from foot to foot. When artificial light radiated from the front yard, probably Simon opening the front door, they both leaped back over the fence toward the campus. Simon wouldn’t be giving chase. His efforts generally stopped at the light switch.
The girl watched them leave and then continued forward. She crouched low acting like a B movie spy. Where the hell was she going? She stumbled over herself and rolled onto her back with her knees bent and her arms stretched out to each side. Henry jumped up ready to speed down to assist her if she was hurt, but she wasn’t hurt. Her shoulders shook and he could hear her howls of laughter from two floors up. Disheveled hair hung in front of her face. She brushed it aside to reveal heavy black make-up covering her eyes and lips. She struggled to her feet and headed toward his basement window. Damn. She was going to try and enter.
The new beginning has more suspense and makes Alex and Henry a lot more sympathetic. I’m keeping this version, however, for when I want to read about characters just a bit darker around the edges.
Let’s jump to Jenna Da Sie’s blog to see what she does with her darlings. http://jennadasie.com/.
Welcome to Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop!
If you’ve come from Kristi Rose, welcome!! Her book is sale- just an FYI!!!!
This week Jeanne McDonald provided the topic this week.
Outside of writing, what is your day job?
My career as an attorney had a bumpy start. A new graduate of law school, I couldn’t find a legal based job in the middle of a recession that had a few of the largest laws firms in Boston crashing down. Instead, I volunteered at Legal Assistance and helped clients who couldn’t afford legal services. Within a year, I had opened a small law firm and also became a court appointed attorney representing parents who had lost or were at risk of losing their children for abuse or neglect. The learning curve was huge and the stakes were high. I loved it, yet the constant pressure to not mess up and ruin someone’s life hovered over me constantly.
And then I moved to a new state for my husband’s medical training and found a job with an accounting firm doing tax law. I became an international corporate tax specialist. Working with some of the wealthiest corporations in the world had amazing perks. Instead of visiting the poorest homes in the area, I was dining at the best restaurants. I received an assignment to work in the London office complete with a furnished two bedroom flat a few blocks south of Big Ben. The hours were grueling at times, but I enjoyed the challenge.
And then, almost a decade after becoming a tax attorney, I moved to a new state for my husband’s career. This time, I had two children in tow and the long hours at the office didn’t seem so satisfying. I homeschooled the kids to keep their lives more stable while we moved yet again.
When the kids went to school, I began writing and I love it. It’s the job I was meant to do, and yet something was missing. There are so many people in the world who don’t have access to decent legal assistance. I’ve seen how huge corporations spend enormous amounts of money to maneuver through regulations for their own financial gain, while people who have done nothing wrong but been born poor have to fight a system rigged against them. And I have a law degree that has value to those people.
So I’m reentering the legal profession not in the corporate world, but back to my legal assistance days. I have a part time practice that represents children and their parents in abuse and neglect cases. The pay isn’t great, but the impact is huge.
I’m currently writing a legal thriller and having my characters head into a courtroom for a murder trial. It’s been fun mixing my two lives together.
Head on over to Jami Denise and see what she does when not writing amazing books.
Welcome back to Romance Writer’s Weekly. This week’s topic is from Tracey Gee.
As we all know, authors put real people and situations into their books. Let’s look at the times we’ve pushed through the pain by putting bad experiences or relationships into our works whether for therapy, or just as a way to close the door.
When writing romance, I often resort to where I’ve been. The uncertainty of whether the person I love loves me, the fear of loss, and the joy of marrying my best friend provided me with plenty of feelings to harness for my writing. As a highly emotional person, some of these situations can take over and twist my stomach into a hundred pound knot. When I write a scene, the feelings come rushing back to me. If I didn’t feel miserable writing a break up or perhaps the death of a loved one, the scene probably lacks depth of emotion.
When writing thrillers, however, I often move into a world I want to be. So I need to step out of my shoes and place myself in the shoes of the person on the other end of a gun, or killing someone for the first time, or the hundredth time. Although years on a soccer field have made me immune to an elbow in the gut, or being pushed down by someone one hundred pounds bigger than me, I honestly couldn’t compare that experience to what soldiers and police enforcement experience in their jobs.
The emotions in these scenes are not something the average person experiences, and yet to be realistic, the reader should become a part of the action.
Which do I prefer? Both. Life is full of highs and lows for everyone. The ability to grasp a reader and bring them into the middle of the story and all the heartache, panic, and terror involved, makes the discomfort of writing the scenes worth it.
Did you come from the amazing author Betty Bolte’s site? If not, here’s the link: www.bettybolte.com/blog.htm
Next on the tour is the wonderful Raine Balkera. http://rainebalkera.blogspot.com
Welcome back to Romance Writers’ Weekly. Victoria Barbour wants us to show the cast of our most recent book or WIP. I’m revealing the two heroes of “Untrue Colors.”
You have a choice to make…Ryan Reynolds or Jason Statham. This will be a commitment for at least three months of fulltime writing. Chosen yet? Some of you latched right on to the bedroom eyes, and the guy who could smile his way straight under your sheets. Others, and you know who you are, chose the tough guy. The guy who could call you by the wrong name on your first date, and it would take three orgasms and few shared showers before you feel the need to correct him.
This was my decision when writing “Untrue Colors.” It was difficult, and I almost invited both of them into the heroine’s love life, but I restrained myself…barely.
Women have been known to love two men at the same time, but when a writer falls for two men in the story she is writing, chaos ensues.
The story “Untrue Colors” started out as a modern day “My Fair Lady.” Henry, a fictional version of Ryan, is the professor who falls for the heroine. And Henry is amazing. He’s smart, sexy, and has a past that makes him every bit as Alpha as a Navy SEAL. In fact, he’s a retired sniper for the Secret Boat Service in the Royal Navy, the British equivalent of a SEAL.
He is not, however, a take-no-prisoners kind of guy. Alex, the heroine, requires a hero who can fall in love with a woman who survived rape and abuse and help her learn to trust again.
His brother Simon, my Jason stand-in, wouldn’t stop bugging me until I let him into the story as well. At first, a mere background character, Simon’s personality burst out of the story and sent the story into directions that truly pissed off Henry. After all, this is Henry’s book.
Not only does Simon demand a bigger and bigger role, he steals entire scenes, using his own POV. He’s not exactly warm and fuzzy, more cold and manipulative. Yet, his role in the book is crucial.
The romance and action surrounding Henry and Alex more than dominate the book, but Simon leaves his mark and is the focal point of one of the most crucial parts of the story. I promised him his own book eventually, so he let me write the book with him playing second fiddle. Three more months with Jason? Yep. I can live with that.
Who is the hero you’d be willing to spend a few months with?
* This was previously posted in Fresh Fiction.
Jeanne McDonald https://authorjeannemcdonald.wordpress.com/ is next. I hope she posts pictures…
This week we’re challenged to write an interesting flash fiction under 100 words using the words spring, coffee, and lizard. What insane person thought of this question? Me!
Did you come from Mikki Cober?
Go back and see what she writes! But then come back.
Here’s my attempt…
Sand sucked. It rubbed between Kerry’s heel and sneaker, scratched under her eyelid, and crunched between her teeth. Lizards sucked too, especially the fast ones. She should have stayed with her car. Rational thinking, however, had left her when the tire blew up and her escape came to a screeching halt.
The morning sun beamed death and desolation all around her. One cup of iced coffee would put a spring in her step. Instead, she had half a bottle of water. In the distance, a police car approached. Damn. She turned and ran. She’d take her chances with the lizard.
Travel on to Beth Carter‘s flash fiction.
This week’s topic was chosen by S. C. Mitchell – Describe your perfect writing retreat.
If you came from the amazing Sarah Hegger’s site, welcome!
In a nutshell, I took over the sunroom in our house, and I refuse to give it back. Large windows on three sides provide perfect views of huge trees, squirrels, deer, and a few neighbors.
I started writing with a snack table and a large leather chair. It worked for a while. McDreamy, my husband, however changed everything by buying a small desk on wheels. I could keep a printed manuscript, a laptop, and a cup of coffee on it.
There was only one drawback to my setting, poor posture. Agonizing.
The solution? A lime green ball chair. I can sit on that for hours and not feel the muscle strain in my back I did when in the way too soft leather chair.
Sometimes, I head to the kitchen and stand at the island to finish some tasks. I’m also closer to the coffee. I love the retreat. I’ve trained myself over the years to focus on work in the office, soI tend to be more productive here than anywhere else. My slice of Heaven on Earth.
Betty Bolte is the next stop on this trip around the web. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll catch sight of one of her many pets. Dogs, cats, horses.