Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Guys can be confusing. So true, right?

As a writer, I want to be sure my male characters talk and act like real men so I often do research--talk to men, watch men, think about men. You know, the basic stuff. Sometimes even that isn’t enough. Sometimes I have to be direct, like a guy. For me that means asking questions. I was talking to a guy friend of mine about how to make sure my male characters sound like real men and our conversation turned to the stuff guys says to girls when they want to say something nice but don’t want to come across as a rude jerk who’s only interested in her body.

Here’s what he told me.

If a guy says:
that’s a pretty sweater

He means: 
you have pretty breasts

If he says:
those are awesome boots/shoes

He means:
you have awesome legs

If he says:
those are great jeans

He means:
you have a great ass

Ok. That’s not the whole list. There were others including potential compliments including her jacket, blouse, skirt, turtleneck, tank top, khakis, gloves, hat, scarf—and others I’ve already forgotten.

I do remember though, when I asked him if there were any coded compliments about other things—other things being anything other than the woman’s body—and him drawing a complete blank. I prompted him with, you know, like maybe if they want to say something about her personality.

Again another blank.

Hmmm. I guess that coded speech does serve its purpose.

Decoding some guys can be a challenge but most of the time its worth the effort. Right?

Read More: 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Like most writers, my writing process varies somewhat but there are some patterns.

I start writing to get a sense of the characters and setting. I might write the opening of the story, a scene or two from the middle or the end. In the beginning, I write whatever comes to mind, whatever makes the story and characters come alive for me. I keep writing until I get stuck.

When I get stuck I ask myself a couple questions. What does she want? What’s her goal? What does he want? His goal? The best stories have complex characters who desire several things, often these things are conflicted. Like the woman who wants excitement in her sex life but is afraid to trust. Or a guy who wants to commit to the woman he’s in love with but has a job that always puts him in danger.  Once I know what the characters want I can use those goals to give the story shape.

The next ingredient is motivation. Why does she want crave excitement in her sex life? Sure, everyone wants excitement. But each character is unique and much of that individuality is expressed in motivation. Does she want excitement because she’s just left a dull but secure romance and wants to know what she’s missing? Or does she want to experience some wild sex because she’s just finished law school and has done nothing but read, write and study for the past couple years? What about him? Does he long to provide for his woman because while growing up he never had a home of his own? Or maybe appreciated his childhood and wants to provide a stable home for future children. The characters’ motivation propels the story forward by causing them to move toward their goals.
Next up, conflict. What’s in the way? There has to be something in the way ‘cause if there isn’t a problem there isn’t really a story. Readers are wonderful people, but, well, they do like to see the characters work hard for that happy ending.

The best conflicts are ones custom designed for the character. That woman who wants hot sex but is afraid to trust? Create a to-die-for hero who gives her a taste of what he has to offer but makes it clear that to get more she has to trust him. Even better, add in an external element that requires her to trust him, to do something she can’t, maybe help her achieve a goal that’s important to her. 

Read more: 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bikinis to Bestsellers, how I got started writing

As a writer, I know lots of other writers and book industry people, so I often forget that being an erotic romance writer is a bit unusual. I wouldn’t say people are shocked when they find out what I write but they are often curious. Do they ask questions? Sure, all kinds. Serious questions, How do you handle your taxes? Flirty questions, Do you need help with research? Naughty questions, Are the stories based on your life? Inspirational questions, How did you get started?

How I got started can be broken up into two parts. How I got started writing and how I got started writing erotic romance.

I started writing because I love stories. I know that isn’t a flashy answer but it’s the truth. I bought a book on how to write and wrote my first short story. I decided to start with a short story because the thought of writing an entire novel was intimidating. A 7,000 word story sounded manageable. I used what I learned in the book, wrote a story and sent it in. I received the contract about a month later. I was hooked.

The story was for True Confessions magazine. It’s about a woman who runs away from a disappointment at home and enters a bikini contest in Florida. That’s a reasonable thing to do in a time of strife, right? Take your clothes off and dance around? Works for me. It worked for her too. The experience changed her perspective, which is what she needed, then she went back home and took care of the business of getting what she wanted from life.

After that story, I wrote several more for confession magazines, then I started writing novels. The first couple novels I wrote were sweet romances. Writing sweet romances taught me to focus on emotion and the complicated push-pull of romantic relationships. The move to erotic stories came gradually. As I found new ways to push my characters into more intense situations, the stories became sexier.

I love writing erotic romance because it gives me the opportunity to let my imagination go. The possibilities are limitless and the farther out I go with my plot ideas, the further I get to push my characters. Pushing characters doesn’t have to mean sending them off to do really outrageous things, like hook up with aliens or rob banks, it just means finding ways to push a particular character into situations that challenge them in ways they’ve never been challenged before.

Sound good? Get your copy.
While writing my new novel, Unfinished Business, I worked to come up with a way to challenge my main character, Hayley. After suffering through a really public, humiliating scandal, she’s moved from her country hometown to the city of Detroit, Michigan. She’s started fresh with new friends, new clothes and an edgy attitude. Her plan, avoid anything having to do with the country and anyone who will expose her past. At the start of the story she’s totally ready to have some spur-of-the-moment random sex because she thinks that’s way to figure herself out. Readers will catch on pretty quick to the idea that while satisfying in the short term, getting naked with a guy she’s not that into isn’t really going to help her comes to terms with her past.

What guy will offer the acceptance she craves and challenge her to get over her past? A man who loves her for who she is.  The catch? He’s from the country, too. So loving him will force her to find a way to love the part of herself she hates.

In this excerpt of Unfinished Business, we get a glimpse of that building conflict and a hint of her
true feelings for Nick.

About a minute later, Nick and I pull into the VFW lot, and he glides around looking for a place to park. He finds a space behind a red F-150 pickup truck that has a white window decal of a woman’s silhouette on the driver’s side. She’s flexing her biceps and grinning from beneath wind-blown hair. It reads—‘Fear This City Boy’. Nick stares at it then at the one on the passenger side that reads—‘Redneck Girl’. He points and laughs. “I feel right at home.”

I should but I don’t. I can already feel the weight of the stares and hear the whispers of rumors. I turn away from Nick as I cringe, feeling like maybe I should tell him about my past. It’d be better if he heard it from me but my stomach turns sour just thinking about saying the words aloud. My own stupidity and shame swirl in my heart and make my chest hot.

I’m just not ready. Yet.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Unfinished Business from the bestselling What's Her Secret series

Hayley, the main character, has left her small hometown and started a new life for herself in the city of Detroit, Michigan. She wants to hide everything about her country past and reinvent herself as a hip city woman. Problem is, she doesn’t really know who is she. Back home, she always did what her family and friends thought she should do, rather than what she wanted to do. So, when she arrives in the city, she doesn’t have much of an idea of who she really is or what she really wants.
The perfect man for her? Nick. A country guy who sees through her city pretenses and encourages
her to be herself. His insistence that she accept who she is creates conflict for two reasons. One, the only things she knows about herself, her country past and her part in the scandal, she doesn’t like and two, she doesn’t know how to start in figuring out who she really is.

Hayley’s struggle to accept her past and discover her new self is at the heart of the story. Using Nick as part of the conflict gave me the chance to make sure there is plenty of yummy sex and a satisfying romance. No, getting to the happy ending isn’t easy but who says easy is good?

Sound good? Get your copy.

Or read more about it:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Talking about sex on Valentine's Day, 2015

Writing about Relationships: The Tricky Bits

Date: February 14
Time: 2:00 pm — 5:00 pm

Cost: $20 for members, $30 for non-members
Location: CADL Okemos Library, 4321 Okemos Road, Okemos, MI 48864

Just like in real life, the relationships between your characters can be tricky and fraught with emotional landmines. Whether you’re writing about romance, siblings, friends, or the parent-child relationship, each character’s actions and baggage has an effect on the characters around him. Struggling with intimacy and conflict? The twisting and turning arcs of different characters? Writing a love scene? We’ve got you covered! 

Join us for this premier workshop featuring romance authors Alyssa Alexander, Diana Stout, Isabelle Drake, and Malea Powell (And don’t worry. We’ll get you out in time for date night with your honey.)

Alyssa Alexander: “The 12 Steps of Intimacy…Modified”
Diana Stout: “Character Motivation & Conflict: How Does It All Drive Plot?”
Isabelle Drake: “Making the Good Bad: Using Intimacy & Sex Scenes to Create & Increase Conflict”
Malea Powell: “Diverse Relationships: The Tricky Task of Writing Across Cultures”