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

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/

Friday, October 19, 2012

Weekly Dose of Inspiration

This week's inspiration was submitted by Glenys O'Connell

My inspiration isn’t a what, it’s a who! Miss Martha the Cat was my inspiration for years, she’d sit on my lap while I typed, purring when my fingers moved, giving me the evil eye or a sympathetic meow when I stopped. She’s gone now, but her successor, O.J. (Orange Juice – guess what colour he is?) is happy to waltz around the room with me when we get a new contract!

Thanks so much for sharing, Glenys!!  Readers, what inspires you?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Kiss

Can a kiss really be perfect? Is ‘true love’s’ kiss actually powerful enough to wake the dead? Does anyone really know? I don’t.

What I do know is that there is something very powerful about a kiss. Think about it. In movies as well as books, the anticipation of the first kiss is…WOW.

You know what I’m talking about. Heck, you probably vividly remember your first kiss. (I know I do)

The heightened sense of awareness.

The wonder.

The SweeTarts…

Sorry, that was my first kiss. Yuck! I still cringe when I recall it.

Wikipedia states "Anticipation is the central ingredient in sexual desire." That sounds about right. Which is why we authors do all we can to make that first touch, that first kiss as great as it can be. To get everything just right.

I love writing the first kiss. When I hit that moment in the story, I think I’m just as nervous as my characters. Okay, the characters aren’t necessarily nervous, but I usually am.

It’s a very important moment in the story. Sometimes it’s slow and passionate. Sometimes a bit edgy and heated. It can even be possessive and a bit rough—like staking a claim. Whatever else it is, a kiss is always emotional.

Sure, the emotion doesn’t have to be sexual or even pleasant. Take for instance the kiss of death from Godfather II. But as a romance author, these pleasant, sexual emotions are the ones I aim for.

Not just in the hero and heroine's first kiss, but in every kiss between them. And not always with a kiss on the lips. After all, a kiss doesn’t have to be on the lips to provoke an emotional response, does it?

Noah Clark, the hero in AFTER MIDNIGHT, understands the importance of a kiss, a touch, the brush of fingertips across a lover’s skin even if Isabeau doesn’t…


“It’s not supposed to be just about the finale. It’s about the journey. It’s all about touch, Isabeau. Soft caresses. Slow, deep, wet kisses. Why would you settle for anything else?” Her tongue darted out and wet her lips, and Noah wondered what she’d do if he leaned in right now and showed her what he meant.

“Maybe you haven’t taken a good look at me?”

“I’m looking at you now.” He cupped her face with one hand, traced his thumb along the curve of her jaw. Her skin was warm and soft as silk beneath his.

“Noah.” His name crossed her lips, a husky rasp barely audible over the street noise. She reached up and wrapped her hand around his.

She had a mouth that begged to be kissed. A mouth meant for pleasure. How was it she didn’t realize her own appeal? He traced his thumb over the palm of her hand. Satisfaction welled inside him when she trembled. “You don’t have to settle, Isabeau.”


Available Now from:  The Wild Rose Press  and  Amazon 

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Musings: My Dream Office

While playing on Pinterest the other day I discovered a pin that led me to a great website! One that made me wish I was a little more organized. Or maybe that I had not only found but was currently living in my dream home - the one big enough to include my dream office.

Visit A Bowl Full of Lemons

Gorgeous, isn't it?  Perhaps a bit too white for me. Well, and it needs a much bigger desk. And while I'm at it, no matter how much I wish I was more organized, there is no way my dream office would remain this clutter free and clean for long. It's just not possible - at least not while I'm writing. There are too many notes scribbled on scraps of paper and napkins.

So what would my dream office look like? I've asked myself this question often. And honestly, I change my mind often. One thing that doesn't change, is the need for a chalkboard - and not just any chalkboard. No, the chalkboard I have in mind would cover one entire wall of the room. It's true! They make this fabulous paint that allows you to turn anything into a chalkboard. Check it out! This one is in a kitchen, but you get the idea.

And that bigger desk? Something like this would be nice:

I could keep everything within reach if I had a desk like this one. Of course, I wouldn't be able to resist adding something like this to the room:

A few walls of bookshelves are a must. Or at the very least one or two of these:

Now add a chaise lounge for reading and voila, my dream office!

Unfortunately, until I move to a different home, I'll have to stick with what I have.

My office - otherwise known as the kitchen table.

Where do you write? Is it your dream space?

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

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tough Girls

I find this picture very inspiring. Women doing things to help them deal with live after breast cancer.
For more info about this tattoo and the more, please visit: http://margotmifflin.com/tag/breast-cancer-survivors/

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Layers and Layers of Characterization

I wanted to title this post, "Truth is stranger than fiction" but before I could use that quote, I needed to 1--find out who said it and 2--make sure I had it correct. To be honest, I don't know who to credit the quote with because that's not the correct quote. The ever witty Mark Twain said “Truth is more of a stranger than fiction.” But that doesn't mean the same thing at all. So where did that quote come from? I don’t know. And I'm getting off task. This blog is a post about characterization. “Ogres are like onions…” Shrek told donkey. “…They have layers.” And so do the most interesting characters. But I have to tell you—all characters are interesting. The big burly biker, the blue haired, bingo playing granny, the metro/gay male BFF. They add reality to the story because we’ve seen these people. We know this granny, this friend, this biker. But it’s the layers, the parts underneath, that make them truly unique. For instance, the big burly biker collects Beanie Babies or is afraid of spiders. The blue haired granny has a black belt in karate or drag races on the weekends. And the gay BFF is bouncer at a night club and has more tattoos than natural skin. These traits make them interesting because they’re unexpected. {Disclaimer—I write funny and whimsical romance. Because of this, my characters cannot be too serious or take things too seriously. Even themselves. But a writer of more serious fiction might choose more serious traits to add depth to their characters.}

Interesting characters come out of the people we see everyday. I just watched a show—an entire one hour documentary, mind you—about the oldest bank robber. He was in his eighties when he started robbing banks. Let me just say, you can’t make this stuff up! J L Rountree once had everything. He lost it in the oil crash, then decided the only thing left to do was rob banks. He looked like my Popaw. Same black-framed glasses, same high-waisted pants, same cantankerous disposition. One time when Rountree was arrested (yes, he was arrested more than once and still continued his crime spree), he reprimanded the officer for pointing a gun at him. Rountree said, with incredulous disgust tainting his Texas drawl, “I have never, ever owned a pistol.” Here’s a man who just robbed a bank. Walked in and handed the teller an envelope with “Robbery” printed on it in big red letters, and he’s offended because the police officer thinks he might be armed? I’m still shaking my head over that one. And with a smile on my face. It seems that bank robbers—like onions and ogres—have layers too, and that’s a layer even I didn't see coming.

So where is the line between truth and fiction? You tell me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Musings: The Power of Pink

Yes, it's October again and aside from being the beginning of fall and the month when Starbucks finally starts serving pumpkin lattes again, it's breast cancer awareness month. Now I'm not going to remind you to get your mammogram (though you should, you know). Today I want to talk about pink. And its power.
Pink has power? If you don't believe me, look around you. Pink batteries at the grocery store, pink cookie recipes on Pinterest, and pink shoes on the feet of the ginormous NFL players. You say pink and we say breast cancer awareness. I find this amazing that a color can define a disease. *Everyone* knows what a pink ribbon stands for. I have a dark blue one that I pin on from time to time. Do you know what it's for? Most likely not. So what gives pink this power? Is it because we as women like pink? Is it because 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer? Or is it that unforgettable line in Steel Magnolias, "Pink is my signature color."? Or could it be clever marketing mixed with all of the above? Susan Goodman Komen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1977. She was 33 years old. She died 3 years later in 1980. After making a promise to her sister to do everything she could,Nancy Goodman Brinker started the Komen Foundation in 1982. Since the formation of Komen and other organizations like it, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at any stage have a greater chance for survival.I wanted to impress you with statistics, but it takes a slide rule and an degree in engineering to fully understand all the ins and outs, but trust me, they are better than they were twenty years ago. All of this and an entire month dedicated to remembering a color and what it stands for. That is the power of pink.

More about Susan G Komen and The Komen Foundation--Komen For The Cure http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_G._Komen_for_the_Cure

More about Survival Rates concerning breast cancer http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/BreastCancer/OverviewGuide/breast-cancer-overview-survival-rates

10 Things you should know about breast cancer http://www.lifescript.com/health/centers/cancer/tips/10_life-saving_breast_cancer_facts.aspx?gclid=CIePp-Sb8LICFWGnPAod9w4Akg&ef_id=9WxPQR2UdxcAAE-x:20121008005942:s

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Character Quickie: Clancy Marshall

20 quickie facts about Clancy Marshall:

Birthday? Valentine’s Day
Favorite color? Red
Nickname? None until Vittore called me Princessa
Birthmark or scars? Large scar on the inside of my left forearm
Siblings? None
City of residence? Chicago
If you were a jelly bean flavor, what flavor would you be? Raspberry
Occupation? Unemployed chef
Hobbies? Growing herbs and vegetables year-round
Favorite song? Have I Told You Lately? By Van Morrison
Name one item in your refrigerator right now? Feta cheese
Your greatest fear? To never find true love
Most treasured possession? My mom’s wedding ring
Special talent? SoufflĂ©s that don’t flop
Cat or dog? Both
Pet peeve? Stupid people
Unforgettable moment? Graduating from Le Cordon Bleu
Spicy or not? Depends on my mood
Favorite guilty pleasure? Gorging on coffee ice cream with hot fudge topping
If you could ask your author one question, what would it be? Why did you blab all the sexy bits?

Clancy Marshall is the heroine in Sloane Taylor's fabulous new release, MASQUERADE, available now MUSA PUBLISHING

Learn more about Sloane and her characters at her WEBSITE

Friday, October 5, 2012

Weekly Dose of Inspiration

I’m not sure we need any words, but let me just...

Wait, what was I saying?

Sorry, I got a bit distracted. Who could blame me?


I could look at this photo all day.

Gabriel Aubry folks — the closest representation of Noah Clark I've ever found. 

So tell me, what inspires you?

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Why I Write Romance

I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count, and usually when I’m totally unprepared to answer. So today, I thought I’d get my thoughts together once and for all.

I didn’t always want to be a writer. Wait, can you hear that? That noise is my family unanimously hollering, “Yeah, right!” Sorry, family, but it’s true. Had you asked Sarah Grimm, the young girl, what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have given a different answer every time. My dream changed like the blowing of the wind through the trees, or with whatever story I was reading. Then, I picked up my first romance novel and oh…my…God! I’d always loved to read, and suddenly I had discovered a whole new world. A world I could get lost in, where no matter how impossible the odds, a happily-ever-after always waited. Let me tell you, for a die-hard romantic, this was nirvana!

What? No shock and awe that I’m a die-hard romantic? Learning that bit probably doesn’t surprise you, does it? I believe in love, not just as a fundamental part of human relationships, but as a force that can heal emotional scars. I truly believe someone exists for each of us—a person we are destined to find. Our other half. A soul mate. Perhaps the surprising part is that I’ve always believed this—even as a young girl.

I love reading romance. But, I love writing romance even more—bringing two people together, even if it is only in my imagination. I love the stuttered heartbeats when the hero and heroine first meet—that first glance. Heck, I love the second and third glances! I love the gut punch of sexual awareness, the sweetness of that first kiss, and the momentary panic over the realization they’ve fallen in love. I love the idea how even at the worst of times, at those moments when you least expect it, two people can find love. I love the idea of good conquering evil, of the hero and heroine winning against all odds, and the bad guy ‘getting what he deserves’ in the end.

Why would I want to write anything else? 

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

Monday, October 1, 2012

Monday Musings: My Fall Line Up

Fall is here and that means everyone is getting excited and chatting about new TV shows. Everyone, that is, except me. Sure there are a couple of shows that I look forward to the return of. But to me, fall is a time of slower days at work, more time to write, and (if I’m lucky) weekends spent curled in a chair with at least one of my three dogs on my lap and a much anticipated new release on my eReader.

I love reading back cover blurbs. Whether it’s blurbs for some of my favorite author’s upcoming releases, or blurbs for books and authors I’ve never heard of, it truly doesn’t matter. I love reading them. I have the little Amazon add-on on my internet toolbar so no matter where I am on the internet I can add a book to my wish list. And I use it. A lot. Probably more than my pocketbook would like!

So what’s on my fall line up this year?

Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen – Absolutely love this series!
Run the Risk by Lori Foster
Criminal by Karen Slaughter
Mona Lisa’s Room by Vonnie Davis
9th Girl by Tami Hoag – I’ve been a fan of hers since her romance days!
10 Reasons Not To Date A Cop by Amie Louellen
Low Pressure by Sandra Brown
Lean on Me by HelenKay Dimon

And the list goes on and on. So many books so little time. OK, I know that phrase is so overused it is clichĂ©, but it’s also true!

What new releases are you looking forward to reading this fall and why? 


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