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: Flash Fiction

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…

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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.

Romance Writers Weekly: Writer’s Space

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!

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Today is the release day for my romantic thriller “Untrue Colors.” The hideaway in my house is where I wrote most of “Untrue Colors.”UNTRUE COLORS 1600x2400

 

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.

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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.

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Romance Weekly: Favorite Holiday Song

This week Xio Axelrod of Romance Writers’ Weekly, wanted to know our favorite holiday songs.

Have you come from S. C. Mitchell’s blog at http://scmitchell.wordpress.com/? If not, go back to it. Not only will he reveal his favorite holiday song, but you can see the book he released this week,

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My favorite Christmas song is “I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day.” This moving song was written before the end of the Civil War by Henry W. Longfellow. A series of family tragedies inspired this sombre holiday carol. His wife Fanny died in the arms of her husband despite his frantic attempts to save her. Her death devastated him. The next year, his son died of a gunshot wound in battle. With his family in shambles, Christmas was not a happy time for him.

Deep emotions run through each verse, reminding me that Christmas can be a day of heartbreak and loneliness for some and peace and joy for others.

I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY

By Henry W. Longfellow, 1864.

 

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play,


And wild and sweet the words repeat


Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

And thought how, as the day had come,


The belfries of all Christendom


Had rolled along the unbroken song


Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

Till ringing, singing on its way


The world revolved from night to day,


A voice, a chime, a chant sublime


Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

And in despair I bowed my head


“There is no peace on earth,” I said,


“For hate is strong and mocks the song


Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:


“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;


The wrong shall fail, the right prevail


With peace on earth, good will to men.”

 

Then from each black, accursed mouth


The cannon thundered in the South,


And with the sound the carols drowned


Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

It was as if an earthquake rent


The hearth-stones of a continent,


And made forlorn, the households born


Of peace on earth, good will to men.

 

Head over to Carrie Elks’ page to see what song she chose. Probably more cheerful than mine!  http://carrieelks.com/blog/ And check the release she has coming out on Christmas Day!

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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/

Dating Disasters: #LoveWriteChat

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Welcome to those who came over from Leslie Hachtel’s blog.

Today we’re discussing date disasters. I could write a book about those, but I’ll limit this post to my first. Thanks to Collette Cameron for the topic.
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My dad coached several high school teams when I was younger. He tended to keep me separated from his athletes, especially when I hit adolescence. One summer, however, I needed a sports physical to play soccer at my own high school and his high school had a physician come in to do quick physicals and sign forms. This was long before the days of EKGs for heart murmurs and MRIs for concussions. They took our pulse, blood pressure, slapped us on the ass, and sent us to the field. Never being great with names and faces, I met a lot of his students and remembered none.

A few weeks later, I received a phone call from one of dad’s football players inviting me to the homecoming dance. He’d asked my dad’s permission at practice, but his name drew a blank. I said ‘yes’ anyway, because my dad said he was a nice kid, and I had nothing to do on Friday night.

When he arrived, he was a decent looking kid and, as my dad had said, nice. I would have been fun, except we both were shy and never managed to get deeper than the most simple of sentences during our conversation on the way to the dance.

If the ride was bad, the dance was worse. Maybe it was my complete inability to function in a crush of strangers, or maybe I was just too far outside my comfort zone, but I had a miserable time. I knew no one and everyone kept referring to me as the coach’s daughter.

The date ended as it had begun… awkwardly. No sparks flew and nothing even remotely romantic arose from our date. He dropped me off, and gave me a simple, sweet kiss at the door, more out of obligation than anything else, and then we said our goodbyes.

I figured I’d never see the guy again. Not so. About ten minutes later, he knocked. When I answered, he looked over my shoulder toward the kitchen. I thought he was hungry, but he wasn’t. He asked to see my dad. His car had died, and he couldn’t get it started. He and Dad spent the next hour fixing his car, laughing, and male bonding over the edge of his engine. I think he smiled more with my dad than he did with me.

Never went on another blind date again.
Move on over to Raine Balkera’s blog to read her take on dating disasters.