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!