Join Sarah and her guests for conversations on everything from the art of writing to where we find our inspiration.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Be Safe/Happy New Year's Eve

This is my public service announcement for the year end. Have a fabulous time ringing in the New Year in whatever way gives you joy. Me personally, I'm staying home and having pizza with my two men. After all, January 1 is diet day--yes,  again. But if you're going out and drinking, take a cab. Better still hire a limo. But remember to be safe and smart as you bring in 2013.
Happy New Year, readers!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Normally this is the time that we host Monday musings. But I have to admit that my musings these last couple of days have centered on the tragedy in Connecticut. Sarah and I decided to take today to give a moment of silence for those families, friends and first responders who are affected by this horrific act of violence.
If you're a praying person, this is the perfect time. If not, please but in a request for peace to whatever higher power you acknowledge. Don't forget to hug those you love and be kind. And we'll be back on Wednesday with great info for the writers out there. Until then...

Friday, December 14, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writer Wednesday: What Classic Hollywood Can Teach Us About Writing

We live in an age when anything can and usually does end up on screen. Characters have no problem discussing the most intimate topics or being placed in compromising situations, but this wasn’t always the case in Hollywood. In the mid 1930s, the Hays Code was introduced and film producers faced strict rules about what could and could not be said or portrayed on film. Working under these restrictions, filmmakers and screenwriters became very creative when dealing with adult subjects. It is this creativity that writers can learn from to bring depth and subtext to their own writing.

A great example of using subtext is the classic Tyrone Powers, Gene Tierney film The Razor’s Edge. In one scene, the heroine wants to get pregnant by her fiancĂ© so he won’t leave her. In 1946 when the film was made, the heroine couldn’t simply come out and admit her scheme. She and the hero had to dance around the subject yet, listening to the dialogue, it is obvious what is being discussed in the scene. It’s an excellent example of how characters can say everything while saying nothing.

Classic Hollywood films can also provide a great lesson in how to pepper in backstory through dialogue. His Girl Friday with Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant is a great example of how to use witty dialogue for both characterization and backstory. In the film, Russell and Grant play a divorced couple who work in the newspaper business. Most of the film takes place in the office of Grant’s newspaper, but there is no voice over telling us what happened to make Grant and Russell get a divorce. Instead, their past relationship is revealed in their verbal exchanges with the characters providing just enough information so the viewer knows what happened, but not so much that the action of the story stops for an info dump. The Philadelphia Story is another great film, staring Cary Grant, James Stewart and Katherine Hepburn where dialogue is successfully used to reveal backstory. The best example is with the character Liz, who is Stewart’s camerawoman, and the way she reveals her previous marriage. There are only about 3 lines where the ex-husband is mentioned but each paints a vivid picture of who he was and why the marriage didn’t last.

His Girl Friday is also a great film to watch if you are looking to add zing to your dialogue. At Times, Grant and Russell speak so fast that they practically step over each other’s lines. However, the way each of them speaks reveals their character and gives the viewer a sense of the fast paced life of a 1940’s newsroom.

So, if you are having trouble with dialogue, subtext and dropping in backstory, and you need some examples of how it’s done well, check out one of these great classic films. And, if you get a chance, please check out my newest release, Studio Relations. Set in 1935, it is the story of a vivacious female director and a handsome studio executive who must overcome their professional differences to find love during Hollywood’s golden age. It is available in both ebook and paperback from Montlake Romance

by Georgie Lee

Vivien Howard hasn’t forgiven Weston Holmes for almost derailing her career five years ago. Female directors in 1930s Hollywood are few and far between, and a man who coasts by on his good looks and family connections can’t possibly appreciate what it took for her to get to where she is. But when the studio head puts Weston in charge of overseeing Vivien’s ambitious Civil War film, she realizes she has a choice: make nice with her charismatic new boss or watch a replacement director destroy her dream.

Weston Holmes doesn’t know much about making movies, but he knows plenty about money. And thanks to the Depression, ticket sales are dangerously low. The studio can’t afford a flop—or bad press, which is exactly what threatens to unfold when an innocent encounter between Weston and Vivien is misconstrued by the gossip rags. The only solution? A marriage of convenience that will force the bickering duo into an unlikely alliance—and guide them to their own happy Hollywood ending. 

BIO: A dedicated history and film buff, Georgie Lee loves combining her passion for Hollywood, history and storytelling through romantic fiction. She began writing professionally at a small TV station in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to work in the interesting but strange world of the entertainment industry.

Her traditional Regency, Lady’s Wager and her contemporary novella Rock ‘n’ Roll Reunion are both available from Ellora’s Cave Blush. Labor Relations, a contemporary romance of Hollywood is currently available from Montlake Romance. Mask of the Gladiator, a novella of ancient Rome is now available from Carina Press.

When not writing, Georgie enjoys reading non-fiction history and watching any movie with a costume and an accent. Please visit www.georgie-lee.com for more information about Georgie and her novels.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Musings: I have blonde roots

I have blonde roots. It’s true. I look just like Leeloo in The Fifth Element - my dark auburn hair is growing out and my blonde roots are showing.

OK, you caught me, I look nothing like her. But hey, you can’t fault me, right? I am a fiction writer, after all.

Why am I sharing this news with you? Because writing is like going from blonde to dark auburn – if you don’t keep on top of it, your roots begin to show. Ignore your writing for too long, and your drive dies. Keep ignoring it, your story dies.

It happened to me. I’ve been so busy with the day job, my husband’s business and all of the other excuses we wives and mothers, sisters and friends use to justify ignoring ourselves and what we need to make us happiest, that my roots are showing. I’ve ignored my writing long enough that my writing has stalled. My characters have quieted. No, they’re not silent, but what used to be LOUD is now whispers. What used to niggle at the back of my thoughts all day – is quiet enough I need to really concentrate to hear.

It makes me sad. But there’s a bright side to it, too. Sure, I have to reintroduce myself to my characters, become reacquainted with them. But is that really a bad thing? I mean, getting to spend time with Noah Clark, Dominic Price and the rest of the band…

Well, there are worse things than that, aren’t there?

Sarah Grimm
where dangerously sexy & happily-ever-after collide 
Blog / Website

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Writer Wednesday: How Long is Long Enough?

How Long is Long Enough? 

No, we’re not talking about that. Get you minds out of the gutter. We’re talking about story length. Today is release day for my first novella, The Treasure of Como Bluff, and since both my previously published books have been full length novels, writing a much shorter story was a new challenge for me.

The Treasure of Como Bluff is part of the Love Letters series from The Wild Rose Press, so the story length was already set at 20-25K words, about one quarter my usual length. Like any story, a novella needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. In a romance, the beginning must set the scene, introduce the hero and heroine, and establish the conflict that will drive the story. Even at this shorter length, the middle has to stir up the conflict until it erupts into the inevitable black moment, and the end resolves the conflict and wraps everything up in a satisfying package for the reader. My challenge was how to accomplish all this in 25K words.

If I were a pantser, I’m not sure I would ever have figured out how to approach the problem, so this is one point where I’m glad to be a plotter. I decided to take my usual process and apply mathematics to find the answer. Now, I am completely NOT a math person, but this method worked for me.

When plotting a full length novel, I usually plan for 20-21 chapters of approximately 20 pages each to end up with about 90K words. That seems to be the most natural fit for my style. For my novella, I started by cutting each number in half—10 chapters of approximately 10 pages. That meant one scene per chapter instead of the usual two and allowed me to write normal-length scenes instead of feeling pressure to abbreviate them. Of course, I had to plot my scenes carefully to be sure to include all the necessary elements for telling a complete story.

Another choice I made was to dramatically reduce the time frame of the story. My novels usually cover a period of many months. The action chapters of the novella take place in only a couple of weeks. There is a one-month gap between the black moment and the final chapter (conclusion), but I make that clear in the first paragraph.

I can’t claim this method will work for everyone, but if you’re struggling with a novella or are interested in trying a new length on of size, give it a shot. It worked for me.

Here’s the blurb for the story I managed to tell in one-quarter my usual length:

In her race against rival bone hunters, the last complication paleontologist Caroline Hubbard needs is an unconscious stranger cluttering up her dig site. Nicholas Bancroft might have the chiseled features and sculpted physique of a classical statue, but she's not about to let him hamper her quest to unearth a new species of dinosaur and make her mark on the scientific world.

Nick has come to Wyoming in search of silver but, after a blow to the head, finds himself at the mercy of a feisty, determined female scientist. Despite his insistence that he's just passing through, he agrees to masquerade as Caroline's husband to help save her job. Once their deception plays out, they face a crucial decision. Will they be able to see beyond their separate goals and recognize the treasure right in front of them?

Alison Henderson

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cowboys vs. Guys from Texas

I recently submitted a short to a publisher who had sent a call-out for cowboy stories. The stories were to take place in Texas and before I realized it, my story was written, but my hero was not a cowboy. He was a guy from Texas. Yes, there's is a difference. Do you know what it is? The line is subtle, but true cowboy is a job. Cowboys work on ranches or ride in rodeos. Guys from Texas (or perhaps I should say good ol' boys) don't. They hold a variety of jobs: police officer, mechanic, and firemen just to name  a few. I'd have to say that both hold their own when it comes to romance novels. But I have to say that between the two Guys from Texas are my favorite.
Matthew Mcconaughey is a guy from Texas.
So is Tommy Lee Jones.
and Patrick Swayze.
And cowboys--
Well, Ty Murray is a cowboy.
Brad Paisley is a cowboy.
And this guy. He's a cowboy.
Wait. Did I say Guys were my favorite. Hmmm...I may have to give this a little more thought. Then again, why should I have to choose? So it's settled then. It's a tie. Ciao!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Writer Wednesday with Debra St. John

Music has always been a big part of my life. I listen to music all the time. Country is my genre of choice. Inevitably, music became a big part of my writing as well.

Sometimes it acts as white noise to cover whatever else is going on around me so I can concentrate. For this I usually choose classical or scores from movies. Something without lyrics. If I’m deep into a scene, music with lyrics is fine, but if I’m in editing mode, the lyrics are usually more distracting that whatever other noise I’m trying to cover!

Sometimes music acts as muse. I’ve gotten several story ideas from songs. Sometimes it’s the idea for an entire story. Sometimes it’s just a line or two that adds to the storyline or helps me to develop something about my characters. A Christmas to Remember was inspired by the song of the same title sung by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. Mistletoe and Folly was inspired by one of my favorite Toby Keith Christmas songs: “Blame it on the Mistletoe”. Jessica’s (from This Can’t Be Love) butterfly tattoo was inspired by a line from Brad Paisley’s “Ticks”. Joe’s (from An Unexpected Blessing) preference for mustard on his fries came from a line in Eric Church’s “I Love Your Love the Most”.

Here’s the moment I created around the simple line:

     An easy silence fell as they readied their burgers. Katy doused hers with ketchup, added a small amount of mustard, and a generous dollop of mayo when it arrived. After topping it with pickles and lettuce, she settled the bun on top, and then took a bite. She caught the trickle of juice at the corner of her mouth with a napkin. The way his gaze lingered on her lips made her go warm from the inside out. 
     “Mmmmn.” She fought for a casual tone. “This place really does have the best burgers in town.” 
     Joe grinned. “This place has the only burgers in town.”
     Katy laughed, once again appreciating the way a simple smile lit up his face. “True.” She glanced at his plate. “You put mustard on your fries?” 
     “No other way to eat them.” 

I have to thank many songs for the setting in This Time for Always: it’s modeled after the country bar where my husband and I met. It closed a few years ago, but I like to think that the memories made there live on in my story. Sometimes I accumulate a playlist for a story.

This happened with my latest release, An Unexpected Blessing. The idea for this story wasn’t inspired by any particular song, but some I came across seemed to fit it well. It was fun to come up with my own mini-soundtrack for Joe and Katy’s story.

“Like Jesus Does” – Eric Church, Chief
“He Didn’t Have to Be” – Brad Paisley, Who Needs Pictures
“Til My Last Day” – Justin Moore, Outlaws Like Me
“Outlaws Like Me” – Justin Moore, Outlaws Like Me

Someday I’d like to write a story featuring a country rock star. For now, the specific ideas are still gelling, but I know they’ll come together someday! I just have to keep my ears open to find the right song to inspire me!

Debra St. John writes spicy romance with sexy heroes and spunky heroines for The Wild Rose Press. An Unexpected Blessing is her fifth release. Although she’s a country girl at heart, she lives in a suburb of Chicago with her husband, who is her real life hero. You can find her at www.debrastjohnromance.com or blogging at http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com, http://heroineswithhearts.blogspot.com, or www.authorsbymoonlight.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Breaking Out of Writer’s Block by Linda Carroll-Bradd

After being laid off from a job I’d held for six and a half years, I initially thought—great, I’ll have all day to write. The search for employment dragged from weeks to months, and my creative spirit took a hard hit. If employers didn’t want to hire me, then readers can’t want to buy my stories. This bad thinking became a downward spiral that basically killed my love for writing for almost two years. Sure, I revised old stuff but new stories weren’t bubbling up inside me. 

A major life change and relocation halfway across the US this year allowed me to write full-time. I had one simple goal: get a story accepted and published in 2012. To accomplish that, I knew I had to write short and I turned to publisher calls for submissions. I love these because they have a specific word count (ranging from 5-15K, some longer), a theme and (best of all) a deadline. Sometimes, the theme is only a holiday or a one-line statement but that’s enough to jump start my plotting. 

My first two shorts were rejected but I knew when I submitted the competition would be tough for this well-known publisher. These were the stories that broke my creative block, and I will revise, expand and resubmit those in the future. Now, the field was wide open and I spent several hours compiling a folder of these calls. I wrote a Thanksgiving story set in a small Texas town, a Christmas story set in a different small Texas town, a Christmas story set in 1884 Aspen, and a contemporary summer story set in a small California town. Stories from a historical western anthology published several years ago are now being released as singles—this is a story set in 1871 Wyoming Territory. So within the span of two months, I signed five contracts. 

I also write under a pen name and I had luck with my short erotic romance stories too. I sold two shorts (one had been rejected by one publisher but I sent it right out to another). 

I wrote a rodeo story for a publisher’s call. By the time I was offered a contract, I’d realized that getting established with three new publishers involved more non-writing time than I thought. I declined that offer and now have a completed story to submit to one of my new publishers, as soon as I catch my breath with promo, blogs, website updates, edits, revisions, etc. 

I credit these calls for submissions from various publishers with providing the structure and impetus for me to again get serious about writing and to break my creative block. 

My Thanksgiving story, On With The Show, releases today from The Wild Rose Press

ISBN 978-1-61217-746-5


Monday, November 19, 2012

Too Dependent

So I get up this morning to an email from Sarah entitled, "No Internet". In this email she tells me how she hasn't been on in almost a week because she didn't have internet access. I hadn't noticed because I've been without my laptop for almost as long.

Which made me think--How dependent is too dependent on the technology that we have these days?

My answer? Yes.

How can we not be reliant on these items that make our lives so much easier, even though depending on them can be a strain.

Case and point: my little man's birthday. I didn't take the camera to school with the birthday cupcakes because I had my phone. (And the laptop was in the shop.) It would be so much easier to post the pictures to Facebook from my phone instead of the desktop. Well, the phone was dead and there are no pictures of the cupcakes. This was perhaps my last chance at supreme motherhood seeing as next year is middle school and it will be utterly uncool to have your mother bring cupcakes to share with your class on your birthday when you're thirteen. (Besides that, the regulations state that all shared foods much be professionally made and the dang cupcakes cost me $30! )

Yesterday--because the laptop is MIA--I spent the day on my Nook. Reading the next greatest thing? Nope. Playing Mahjong. In fact I played it dead, then walked around the house like I had nothing to do.

What is it that you can't live without? The one thing that you'd have to have if no other was available  Like say you were stranded on a desert island with electricity to power only one device?

I'm thinking the laptop, but I'd have to make sure I had an internet connection so I could email and well, then I guess I wouldn't be stranded for long! LOL

As the holidays approach and I prepare for company, am I counting the days till Christmas. Nope. Just the ones until I get my laptop back. Sorry, Mom.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Character Quickie: Niko Reynard

20 quickie facts about Niko Reynard:

Birthday? May 23, 1982
Favorite color? Red
Nickname? Aly’s given me two. James-momma’s-boy-Bond and Stud Muffin. Why are you smiling?
Birthmark or scars? Scars from too many gun fights
Siblings? Four older sisters: Margo, Renee, Allegra and Simone
City of residence? Paris, France
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be? French Vanilla
Occupation? Second in command of the French Counterterrorism Unit.
Hobbies? Reading books on philosophy
Favorite song? Ne Me Quitte Pas (Don’t Leave Me)
Name one item in your refrigerator right now? Wine
Your greatest fear? Losing people I love to The Red Hand.
Most treasured possession? Porsche 911 Carrera
Special talent? Being able to understand how terrorists think, what their next move will be.
Cat or dog? Dog
Pet peeve? Adults who abuse children.
Unforgettable moment? The day Aly tossed me some of her attitude.
Spicy or not? Spicy
Favorite guilty pleasure? Having Aly blindfold me during……next question, please. 
If you could ask your author one question, what would it be? When are you coming back to Paris?

Niko Reynard is the hero in Vonnie Davis' new release, MONA LISA’S ROOM, available now at The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

To learn more about Vonnie Davis and her writing, please visit her BLOG.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Visualizing Characters

One of the things I’m repeatedly asked is whether or not I base my characters’ physical attributes on real people, and if so, who they look like? Honestly, I never do. When my characters first begin talking to me, I come up with the details – hair color, eye color, height, and skin tone – and an image of my hero and heroine takes shape in my head. I have problems with my characters looking “just like INSERT MOVIE STAR NAME HERE” because they aren’t that movie star. In my head, they are Justin, Paige, Isabeau and Noah.

However, as a reader, I can understand the interest in who a character might most closely resemble to the author who created him or her. So a while back I went in search of images, specific photos of people, who best represented the visuals I have in my head.

Let’s start with the hero of After Midnight, singer/front man for the rock band Black Phoenix, Noah Clark.

Gorgeous isn’t he? Okay, so this isn’t really Noah Clark, he’s actually Gabriel Aubry. I admit to knowing absolutely nothing about this guy beyond the fact that he is a very close representation of Noah Clark. The closest I’ve found for any of my characters.

And this is how I imagine my heroine, child prodigy pianist turned bar owner, Isabeau Montgomery. I found this photograph while searching iStockPhoto for pictures for my trailer. The moment I saw this model I knew she was the closest I was going to get. She’s got Izzy’s mouth, and beautiful ebony hair.

Now here’s a look at how they meet:

 Isabeau Montgomery sat in the dimly lit bar and shook like an amateur before her first recital. Her gaze, blurred by the sudden threat of tears, settled on the keys before her. Her stomach cramped painfully, yet the need was too great to ignore.

With ability as natural to her as the color of her skin, she began to play. The waterfall of music filled the air, washed over her, completed her in a way nothing or no one else ever had. Against the razor sharp sting of memories, she fought…

She was young, vibrant, and born with a raw talent rarely seen. Classical, jazz, or rock and roll, she played it all. Loved all the genres—loved to create. All that mattered was her joy, her love for the instrument beneath her fingers and the music she was so skilled at creating.

For a good ninety seconds, joy returned, the rush of adrenaline and, conversely, the sense of belonging. In those seconds, time slowed, the lines between the past and the present blurred, and she was a child again. There was no longer pressure to be something she couldn’t be, no fear of what her future would hold.

And with the innocence of youth, no idea that everything she held dear could be lost in the blink of an eye.

The song built to a crescendo then quickly faded as pain, her old friend, returned with enough force to quash her joy. Her stomach roiled. Her breath caught.

Tears gathered in her eyes, and she dashed them away. Isabeau ran her hands up and over her face, pushing her long mass of ebony hair away from her forehead. She struggled to pull herself back together. Her fingers were chilled, cooler than normal, yet perspiration pooled at the small of her back. She closed her eyes, took a deep, slow breath.

“I didn’t expect that old thing to be in tune.”

Sweet Jesus.

She jumped at the deep baritone voice, slamming her knees into the piano. The key cover abruptly closed, and she startled again. Heart racing, she rose and faced the double doors she’d obviously forgotten to lock.

She swept her gaze around the bar’s dim interior until she spotted a dark, male frame. “The bar is closed.”

Her tone was sharp, curt, and left no room for argument. Under different circumstances, she wouldn’t inflict such rudeness on a customer, but he intruded on her privacy, her pain. Her emotions were too close to the surface for niceties.

His voice rang with a clipped British accent and the tone of someone unaccustomed to being questioned. “I was here earlier.”

She remembered the voice and didn’t need him to step out of the shadows to recognize him, which he did anyway. She’d served him a few hours ago—dark lager, no glass—and shared with him a smile as powerful as it was sexy. “We were open earlier. Now, we’re closed.”

His eyebrow shot up. His mouth shaped itself into an ironic curve. “So you have said.”

“Then perhaps you should leave.” Hands unsteady, she bussed the table closest to her and carried the glasses to the bar. His words stopped her cold.

“You’re very talented. How long have you played the piano?”

No, no, no. This wasn’t happening. She closed her eyes on a wave of emotion, doing her best to will him away. But even then she knew. The man at her back was not going away.


Sarah Grimm
where dangerously sexy & happily-ever-after collide 
Blog / Website

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Musings

It's cold and rainy this morning as the warm front that moved through our little lakeshore community over the weekend passes and we settle back into weather more normal for us at this time of year. I'm going to miss the warm weather, but there's something to be said for curling up in the recliner with a dog or two (or three) on my lap.

Sasha refusing to relinquish the lap.

I had a pretty busy weekend. Not writing the five blog posts I needed to do, or working on Midnight Heat as I wanted to do, but cleaning, organizing, and (yawn) doing the grocery shopping. My husband and I also winterized the hot tub -- something we usually don't do, but we decided against the higher energy bill this winter. I really need to get to writing, but first I have to drop 17yo son at school, put in a few hours at the day job, take my grandmother to an appointment and call the insurance company about my reimbursement for my eye exam.

What about you? How does your Monday look?

Sarah Grimm
where dangerously sexy & happily-ever-after collide 
Blog / Website

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Character Quickie: Lexie Covington

20 quickie facts about Lexie Covington (Mega bitchy villain) from Secrets of the Sapphires:

Birthday? Age is only a number.
Favorite color? Is ‘sparkle’ a color?
Nickname? None to repeat in polite society.
Birthmark or scars? Inside.
Siblings? None…that I’ve allowed to live.
City of residence? Springfield, MO for now.
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be? Cinnamon.
Occupation? Administrative Assistant in the CIA
Hobbies? Making my enemies miserable.
Favorite song? Sam The Sham And The Pharaohs’ LI'L RED RIDING HOOD
Name one item in your refrigerator right now? I don’t bother.
Your greatest fear? My beauty fading.
Most treasured possession? My beauty, of course.
Special talent? Please refer to my hobbies.
Cat or dog? With the right sauce, either is fine.
Pet peeve? Nia Brooks
Unforgettable moment? My first kiss with Garrett Van Deren.
Spicy or not? Caliente, baby!
Favorite guilty pleasure? My hobbies would fit here, too.
If you could ask your author one question, what would it be? WHY did you even create Nia?

Lexie Covington is the villain in T. Sue VerSteeg's novel, SECRETS OF THE SAPPHIRES, available now at The Wild Rose Press

To learn more about T. Sue VerSteeg and her writing please visit her WEBSITE

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Write What You Love

I was twelve when I fell in love for the first time. The lucky man was a romance hero, the star of one of the countless ‘white cover ‘Harlequins that I devoured each evening after my homework was complete. I read the books by the grocery sack full. A friend brought them to school, I read them, then passed them to my grandmother. She would read them, we might even talk about them, and back they went to my friend. Not long after, my faithful friend would bring in another sack full, and the process would begin all over again. Harlequin Presents, Silhouette Romance, Kismet. I read them all. And I loved them.

The older I got, the Harlequins gave way to single title romances, fabulous historicals. Books set in the Highlands of Scotland, the ton of England, pirates on the high seas. Even the rebellious colonies called the Americas. Then one of my favorite authors published a contemporary, and I was off running again. These books were like none other. They were about millionaires and nannies, women trying to make it in a man’s world, and professional football players. Corporate raiders, lawyers, doctors, and cowboys. And I fell in love all over again.

When I started writing, I naturally gravitated toward romance. I had well-meaning family members encourage me to write all sorts of genres. “Write something like Stephen King. He sells a lot of books.” I was told to write a mystery, to ‘write chick lit’, and almost every other kind of genre known to man. But I love romance. And I have for a very long time. It’s my favorite reading material. One man, one woman, falling in love. To me there’s nothing better.

I can say with great conviction that I will never write a horror story, a murder mystery, or anything remotely like a suspense. It's not that they aren't worthy to me. They just aren't what I love. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

You Can't Make This Sh%* Up!

Funny story. Some of you may know that my father passed away recently. (This is not the funny part. Just bear with me.) You may also know that I was raised in the *country* and my daddy was a big hunter. He didn't want a funeral service (he's just that kind of 'Simple Man') but we knew that we would need to do something for us to help us accept that he was gone. The decision was made to cremate his body and spread his remains at his two favorite hunting sites. (Still not funny, I know; I'm getting there.) So my family and a few close friends got together to take his ashes into the woods. While there my sister was stung by a bee. I've been told my entire life the best thing to do for a bee sting is to place tobacco on it to draw out the poison. Now at this redneck service there was--of course--chewing tobacco. Remarkably enough, no one in the group actually had it in their mouth, so they wet it with a beer. Yeah, no one had a water, but there was beer. My sister was having trouble keeping the tobacco in place on her hand. So someone kindly offered to secure it--with duct tape! Yes, folks, they duct taped beer-saturated chewing tobacco to my sister's hand during what was essentially our father's funeral. I have only one thing to say: Dad would have been so proud! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Weekly Dose of Inspiration

I’m inspired by everything around me, from a conversation overheard at the grocery store, to an article in the newspaper. Song lyrics inspire me all the time! I’m inspired by my family and my relationship with friends. I’m inspired by people who struggle through cancer, loss of loved ones, and more recently – loss of home and security. Other authors inspire me, too, which is why I spend a fortune on books!

What inspires you?

Sarah Grimm
where dangerously sexy & happily-ever-after collide 
Blog / Website

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Romantic Mystery vs. Romantic Suspense

What is the difference between romantic mystery and romantic suspense? Wait, is there a difference between romantic mystery and romantic suspense? I’m glad you asked.

A lot of readers (and authors) look at romantic mystery and romantic suspense as being interchangeable. However, there’s a big difference between the two. At its simplest, a mystery is a puzzle that needs to be solved – an intellectual game of whodunit. In a mystery, the action is more mental than physical, and although there is danger, it usually – though not always – has already taken place before the book opens. But to me the biggest difference is that in a romantic mystery the hero or heroine is the ‘sleuth’, so the story is about what happens to someone else, not the main character, and how the main character solves the puzzle.

Suspense is about a threat or imminent danger that must be resolved. Something is coming and the reader is waiting for it to happen. The suspense story is typically about what happens to the main character and brings the question, will they survive? The action is an emotional roller coaster and the reader should identify with the hero or heroine and the danger they face – becoming a participant in the ride. A suspense story is about the characters’ journey through the book, and the ending therefore needs to be emotionally satisfying, where a mystery is to be intellectually satisfying.

Since I’m talking about ‘romantic’ mystery and suspense – there will always be an emotionally satisfying ending to the romance in both the mystery and suspense. Without it, the story wouldn’t be a romance. However, the solution to the puzzle needs to be an intellectual one. That means that in a romantic mystery, it is the writer’s job to keep the identity of the villain from the reader until the end. But for the emotional read, the suspense, it is okay for the reader to know the identity of the villain. After all, the threat from an unknown is not as emotionally engaging as the threat from someone you (or the hero/heroine) know(s).

There is some crossover in the genres as a lot of today’s mysteries contain suspense. Perhaps this is where a lot of the confusion stems. I’m really not sure. Some believe the labels don’t matter, that if you are familiar with an author’s work you know what to expect. However if you’re trying to sell a book, or attract new readers, I believe the label matters. And so this is me, tossing around labels…My name is Sarah Grimm, and I write romantic suspense.

Sarah Grimm
where dangerously sexy & happily-ever-after collide 
Blog / Website

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday! My favorite day of the week. Because the weekend is coming? Nope because here at Off The Keyboard it's inspiration day. And let me tell you, there's lots out there to be inspired by. But I decided (after watching the aforementioned documentary about the James Bond series) that this week's inspiration should be Sean Connery.
But is it Sean himself that is so inspiring or the thought of Bond...James Bond that makes this man stand out among others?
I'm thinking it's Sean. And that smile! Definitely hero material.
And I'm sure that everyone can agree that a man who can send our hearts pumping at any age is very inspiring.
Thanks, Sean. Here's to you!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is Branding Painful?

All the buzz in the publishing world is about branding.Or perhaps I should say the buzz is to brand or not to brand?

The American Marketing Association Dictionary defines brand as "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers." That sounds good, right? So why are authors so reluctant to brand? Some say they feel 'pigeon holed' which Wikipedia defines as "narrowly categorizing or deferring." Which is hor--wait, that's not a bad thing.

The point is, branding allows the reader to know what to expect when they pick up the book. Not in plot or characterization, but in tone and theme. Once an author is branded and successful under that brand, it may become harder to break out with a different type of book. Don't believe me? Ask John Grisham how The Painted House sold compared to his 'lawyer' books. The only author I can think of who has successfully managed a writing career and escaped branding is Michael Crichton. How did he do this? I'm not sure other than fabulous writing and downright good stories. And the fact that he published his first novel in 1966 and kept publishing even after his death in 2008. That's quite a career.

But branding isn't a bad thing. Case and point:
I didn't even have to tell you who I was talking about. Everyone from 13 year old boys to 90 year old women know the icon that is James Bond. And how? By branding. You know when you sit down to watch a Bond film or read a Bond novel what you are going to get. And the most amazing part to me? Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, died in 1964. Yes,48 years ago. He wrote 12 novels and 2 collections of short stories which have been made into 23 movies (you do the math). It is safe to say that his legacy lives on today.

 Do you know this man?

Probably not. But I bet you know who this is.

And that, my friends, is branding at its best. Note: if you are interested in learning more about branding I found a great article online. Here's the link: http://jordanmccollum.com/2012/02/marketing-101-author-branding/

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Musing on 007

Thanks to a migraine, I'm Monday Musing on a Tuesday. Why, because I have something I want you to think about. James Bond. What a chore, huh? Wikipedia defines James Bond as code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Bond

This Friday the newest in the James Bond legacy, Skyfall, will be in theaters. This is the 23rd James Bond movie. 23rd! That's a Bond for every generation.

Sean Connery
George Lazenby
Roger Moore
Timothy Dalton
Pierce Brosnan
Daniel Craig
Who's your favorite Bond? For more on James Bond there's an official website...http://www.007.com/