Romance Writers’ Weekly: Killing Your Darlings

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.

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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/.

Romance Writers Weekly: My Day Job

Welcome to Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop!

If you’ve come from Kristi Rose, welcome!! Her book is sale- just an FYI!!!!

The Girl He Knows

This week Jeanne McDonald provided the topic this week.

Outside of writing, what is your day job?

Law

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.

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Romance Writers’ Weekly: Two Heroes- How the Men of “Untrue Colors” Fight For Dominence

 

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.”

If you cam from Victoria Barbour http://www.victoriabarbour.com/blog, welcome!!!

 

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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…

Romance Weekly: Uncontrollable Characters

 

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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! 

This week’s questions are from Eden Ashe.

If you came from LaNora Mangano’s blog, welcome! If not, head on over there to see her answers!  http://jeanne1965.wix.com/finding-lanora#!blog/c112v

 

How much free reign do you give your characters during a story?

My character Simon, a secondary character in my book “Untrue Colors,” took over the series and attempted to take over the first book as well. His personality was so strong that his POV ended up in every story, despite being the primary hero in only one of them.

His elevated position as the main character of the series helped make the stories better. His position as an embedded agent in MI-6 gave him access to information and resources I couldn’t give to my civilian characters. In addition, his love for the women in his life went to the extreme, and the feelings he brings into the books are more powerful than in my other heroes. Ironically, he doesn’t want to love as deeply as he does, it’s his biggest flaw and most endearing characteristic.

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Jason Statham, my vision of Simon

Here’s one of his scenes as the not quite hero in “Untrue Colors:”

The knock continued, more rapidly and aggressively. Simon placed his finger on Valerie’s lips to keep her quiet and then pulled out his gun.

“Who is it?” he called out in English, stepping to the door clothed only by the Beretta in his hand.

“Open up, lover boy.” Nicola’s voice penetrated the wood and scorched his veins.

What the hell did she want? He opened the door, knowing she’d never leave until she gained entry. Nicola, wearing black leggings, knee high black boots, and a long gray transparent shirt, pushed her way past him without so much as a glance at his naked body until she arrived at the foot of the bed. If he had to choose at that moment between Valerie and Nicola, he’d have to flip a coin. They both oozed sex.

Not one to be disturbed by his state of undress, Nicola examined him from shoulder to toe, making his manhood retreat at the indignity, and then she turned to Simon’s last bit of sanity, the beautiful woman lying in the bed. “Am I interrupting anything?”

“Not anymore.” He slipped on his jeans and threw Valerie her little black dress.

I’ve started a new series that deals with a police officer named Bob. His brother Dex has begun to take over the series almost like Simon did. Some men just crave the spotlight!

 

Have your characters ever done something so out of the blue that not only changed your story, but changed the tone and maybe even the genre you were originally going for? (Like your contemporary romance turned into a spicy paranormal)

Suspense slips into almost every story I write. I can’t help it. My characters crave action and danger. My first novel, however, was women’s fiction. As I wrote the sequel, I added blackmail, murder, and kidnappings. Not exactly women’s fiction. The third book in the series had even more intrigue and soon I was addicted to adding suspense to my stories.

The women’s fiction book is lost under my bed forever, but the two sequels I colored with suspense are both on their way to being published.

 

Do you have one character in your head that is sort of boss over all the rest? Or do you decide who to work on and when?

I’m fairly rigid about what books I’m working on at any one time. Mostly my own self-imposed deadlines force keep blinders on me so I can finish a project by a certain date.

Characters are free to give me any ideas they want at any time and I respect the process enough to take five to ten minutes to write down the ideas or even the bits of dialogue that come through my head. Each story has a Scrivener file and has spots for research. Characters, and plot ideas. I prefer full immersion into a story, however, and will leave those pieces until I can delve into the whole book for a period of time.

Head over to Mishka Jenkins’ blog and see how she answered… https://awriterslifeformeblog.wordpress.com/

Romance Weekly #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!

If you’ve come over from Elaine Jeremiah’s website, welcome. She’s the author of “Reunion of the Heart”.

 

We have Vicky Mason to thank for her questions today.

http://www.andilit.com/

http://www.andilit.com/

1.)   Was there a defining moment in your life when you knew you were going to become a writer? If so, what was it?

I’ve always jotted down stories in my head. Nothing great, nothing formal. A few years ago I decided to try NaNoWriMo. I lost. I made it to 35,000 words though and wanted nothing more than to finish the book. It took me two more years to finish it. When I was done, I had no idea what to do. Luckily, I found a local Romance Writers of America chapter nearby. The day I joined in February 2012, I became focused on making writing more than hobby. Since then, I’ve finished eight other manuscripts and sold seven of them.

 

2.)   When you write a story, do you see it unfold as one big picture, or do you add layering in subsequent drafts?

Even when I know the beginning, middle, and the end of a story, I always add subplots and additional layers into a story as I write. These are generally the best parts. The car that only starts after a push and shove, the chocolate that always remains on the heroine’s lip after eating a donut, or the hero’s fear of flying. Not plot points, but the icing on the cake!

 

3.)   How many drafts do you usually write before you send your work to your editor?

I edit as I write, so my work has already been edited about three times before I finish a manuscript. I then print it out and edit it another time. Finally, I read it out loud to make sure everything flows.

My critique partners then pick it apart it. I send it to my agent after I have a solid draft. Then my editor sees it.

 

Hop on over to Raine Balkeras blog to see a bit of her writing history and techniques.

 

Romance Weekly Blog Hop: Flash Fiction Challenge

Today’s Romance Weekly Blog Hop gave the writers a challenge. Create a 100-150 word Flash Fiction using the words, scarf, candle, and chocolate.

If you’ve just come from S. C. Mitchell: http://scmitchell.wordpress.com/ welcome! If not, check out his Flash Fiction. Does he keep it under 150 words? Does he kill anyone? ….hmmmmm.

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Don’t challenge me. I never lose.

I dipped each finger in the hot wax of a candle to hide my fingerprints. The burn soothed my nerves more than the three pieces of chocolate I’d inhaled.

Every last wisp of my red hair hid under a black headscarf. Black robes completed my disguise. He’d never see me coming.

Steady, even steps through the marketplace, blue eyes pointed to the ground, I became one of a thousand women maneuvering through a rainbow of silk and leather hanging from wood frames. Several hundred dollars dropped from my hand in the middle of the crowd. My stomach tightened as I stepped to my target. During the frenzy of greed on the ground behind me, I unlocked the glass case and took the ruby ring. Child’s play.

I turned and smacked into a hard chest. Jake’s chest.

He clasped my arms and grinned. “You lose.”

virtualtourist.com

virtualtourist.com

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When this Flash Fiction Story is made into a movie, as I’m sure it will be considering the depth of the characters and the intensity of the emotion, I’m casting Ryan Reynolds as Jake and Jennifer Lawrence as the crazy woman putting her fingers in hot wax.

Hop over to Gemma Brocato http://www.gemmabrocato.com/blog to find out what she wrote in the Flash Fiction Challenge!

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?

aidan

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?

pitch

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