I hope everyone will join me in giving a group hug to the awesome Tracy Wolff!
BK: Welcome Tracy!
Hi Beth! Thanks so much for having me. As you are one of my favorite writers, it’s always a pleasure and a thrill to be asked to guest on your blog.
BK: You are one of the busiest, most prolific and honored writers I know. When I spoke to you at RWA this year, you said you had ventured into a new genre. Tell us about that genre and how it meshes for you with writing erotic romance and sweeter romance for Harlequin.
I have ventured into a new genre, and that genre is Young Adult. I’m writing as Tracy Deebs and my first YA paranormal, Tempest Rising, hits the shelves in May 2011. I’ve included the cover here, just to give everyone a sneak peak. It’s a dark mermaid tale of a girl on the brink of her seventeenth birthday. The daughter of a professional surfer and a mermaid, Tempest knows that when she turns seventeen, she’ll have to choose whether to be human or mermaid. For years, she’s known that she’ll choose human, but as her birthday approaches, strange things happen that make her realize that the choice might not be as simple as she always thought it would be. It’s got a great love triangle between a hot human surfer and an even hotter selkie shifter, and was so much fun to write that I turned around and started another YA with two friends, called The International Kissing Club. It’s a contemporary YA that follows four small town girls who become foreign exchange students to experience fun, adventure and kissing foreign boys 🙂 It comes out in the Spring of 2012. By the way, if your readers want to stop by my new YA blog, I’m running a contest to give away one ARC for Tempest Rising. It’s the only copy that will be available for months.
BK: How are you and your books alike?
Wow, that’s a loaded question, as I write so many different subgenres I’m afraid I’ll come across as having multiple personalities if I try to answer that 🙂 But to be honest, the one thing I think all my books have in common with each other and with me is that whether I’m writing as Tracy Wolff, Tracy Deebs or Tessa Adams, is the deep emotionality of my writing. I love to put my characters in really trying situations that bring out the best and the worst in them. I’m not happy if I haven’t wrung every drop of emotion out of them, and that goes for contemporary, paranormal, erotic or YA.
BK: What’s one of the best compliments someone could (or has) give(n) you on your writing (another way of phrasing the question: what sort of comment would make you feel someone really ‘got’ your writing?)
Hmm. I have fabulous readers who send me the most wonderful emails, so this is a really hard question to answer. One compliment that I get a lot, and that always make me happy is: “Every time I read one of your books, the conflict is so real and powerful that I am convinced– even though it’s a romance– that you’ll never be able to get the hero and heroine together in the end. And then you do.” Since that’s what I love to see as a reader and exactly what I aim for as a writer, I’m always thrilled when my books can deliver.
Today, I’m giving away copies of From Friend to Father and Beginning with Their Baby, the first two books in the trilogy that ends with Unguarded, my Harlequin Superromance that is available December 7, 2010. Unguarded is a story that is very near and dear to my heart. Rhiannon, the heroine, is the survivor of a brutal rape that has all but emotionally crippled her. For three years, she’s been a frozen shell of her former self, unable to emotionally connect with anyone. My much younger hero, Shawn, sneaks up under her defenses and helps her realize that she is still a strong, passionate, beautiful woman. Oh, and to sweeten the pot, I’ll also throw in a copy of Full Exposure, my first erotic romance, and the first book I ever wrote, so don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered to win 🙂
Rhiannon Jenkins is an events planner on the rise. And her latest client, Shawn Emerson, could make her career. Too bad the gorgeous man insists on mixing a lot of pleasure with his business. In Rhiannon’s books getting involved with a client is the fastest way to exit a job. So, no. She’ll resist all his come-get-me looks and tempting offers.
While his charm is easy to overlook, Shawn in the role of confidant and friend breaks down all her best defenses. Suddenly the tables turn and she wants to be close to him. That means opening up about the ugly events of her past—a risk she hasn’t taken before now. Oh, but he could be so worth it!
Humiliation was a jagged blade scraping away at her insides as Rhiannon poured herself a glass of wine. Normally she wasn’t much of a drinker—it had been a little too easy to rely on alcohol to help her sleep after the attack so she’d quit touching the stuff—but tonight she felt like she more than deserved it. God knew, her first foray into the dating arena in fifteen years hadn’t gone quite the way she’d planned.
What had she been thinking, she wondered, as she walked through the dark living room toward her bedroom. How could she have forgotten herself so completely that she’d taken off her jacket in front of him? It wasn’t like she didn’t live with the scars every day of her life, wasn’t like she ever forgot that they were there.
Except she had forgotten. Today, with Shawn, the pain of the last few years had dropped away until it was just the two of them having fun. Until she was just regular old Rhiannon Jennings on a date with a smart, nice, good-looking man. For a minute, she’d even thought she had a chance of hitting that stupid ball.
But instead of a home run, she’d ended up striking out in the worst way possible. It would be a long time before she forgot the look in his eyes when he’d seen her arms. It was eerily similar to the way Richard had eventually looked at her.
Lifting her glass to her lips, she drained the wine in one quick gulp, then started undressing as the alcohol burned warmly in her stomach. Normally she undressed in the dark, hating to look at the damage that had been done to her body, but tonight she couldn’t help herself.
Making her way into the bathroom, Rhiannon flipped on the light and forced herself to stand in front of the full-length mirror. She’d already taken off her jacket, so she was dressed only in her blue silk tank and black dress pants. Her arms were bare, the curlicue scars on them standing out in stark relief against the faint olive tint of her skin.
They weren’t atrocious, she realized with a faint sense of surprise. It had been so long since she’d looked at them—since she’d allowed herself to look at them—that she hadn’t realized how much the scars that criss-crossed her biceps and forearms had faded. They were still there, obviously, or Shawn wouldn’t have been able to see them from across the batting cage, but at least they weren’t that ugly pinkish-purple she’d lived with for so long.
No, the scars were now nothing but thin, white lines that looped and crossed down her shoulder to her biceps and triceps, past her elbows to her forearms. If she didn’t look too closely, they could pass for lace or the thinnest of ribbon if one discounted the complete randomness of the pattern. Or the wide scars around her wrists, from where she’d yanked against the ropes until her blood had stained them dark red.
He’d done it to mark her, so that she would always remember him—or at least that’s what he’d told her. Personally, she thought he’d done it because he was a sadistic bastard who’d enjoyed causing as much pain as he possible could.
Maybe they were both right, because God knew, most nights his face was still the last thing she saw before drifting off to sleep and the first thing she remembered after waking up.
Three years later and she still didn’t know what had made him do what he’d done to her. It wasn’t just that he’d beat and cut her damn near to death, nor was it only that he’d raped her. Both crimes were horrendous in and of themselves, but together…. She shuddered. Together they had ruined any chance at a life she would ever have.
But standing here thinking about it, thinking about him, wasn’t getting the job done. Inside her head a little voice was shrieking at her to stop, to walk away. Not to do this. But a part of her knew that if she didn’t do this now, then she never would. And she was sick of living like that.
Sick of hiding behind long sleeves and pants in the summertime and long, matronly dresses at the parties she oversaw.
Sick of showering and dressing in the dark because she couldn’t stand to see her own body.
With a shudder, Rhiannon closed her eyes. Ripped off her shirt. Stepped out of her pants. Took off her bra and panties, until she stood completely nude in front of the mirror. Then tried to look, tried to force herself to open her eyes and confront the woman she had become.
It was even harder than she thought it would be. Images of the dark, unreadable look in Shawn’s eyes as he’d stared at her assailed her, mixed and combined with the face of the man who had done this to her until it was all she could do not to dive into bed and pull the covers over her head.
But she’d already done that, had already spent days and weeks hiding from the world, letting her life pass her by because she was too depressed to deal. Too miserable to get on with a life that felt like it was no longer worth living.
Damn it, no. She forced her eyes open. She was done with hiding from herself, done with hating herself and her body because of what some madman had done to her. Though everything inside of her urged her to flee, Rhiannon held her ground and made herself look.
She started with her legs, which bore scars similar to those on her arms—wide bands around her ankles from the restraints. Shallow knife wounds on her shins and thighs, from where he had cut her and laughed.
Then she moved up to her breasts and abdomen to the deeper, wider scars that marked where he had stabbed her—not deeply enough to kill her, but more than enough to mark her for life.
Memories bombarded her, making her knees tremble and her breath hitch. She pushed them away, refused to give in to the fear that assailed her every time she thought of him. Oh, but it was hard, so hard to stand here, and look at the damage. To look at what he’d done to her simply because he could.
When she’d had enough, when her knees had finally stopped knocking together and her heartbeat had almost returned to normal, she flipped off the light and made her way back into the bedroom.
After crawling into her pajamas, she burrowed under her covers but left the light on. Across the room, the TV beckoned, promising if not total oblivion then at least a momentary distraction. She reached for the remote, started to click the power button, but in the end, couldn’t do it.
That’s how she’d been coping for years. A glass of wine, late night re-runs of her favorite sit-coms. Anything and everything to avoid the fact that she’d been hurt, simply because someone had wanted to hurt her, to scare her.
Anything and everything to avoid the fact that her husband had left her to deal with the aftermath of the attack on her own—all because he couldn’t accept what she had become. But then, it was hard to blame him when she couldn’t accept it herself.
Reaching out, she swept the empty wine glass off of her nightstand with one quick flick of her hand. It hit the wall, shattered into a million tiny pieces. Irreparably broken, like her.
It felt so good to admit it, so good not to fight it any more that she shoved the pile of books onto the floor next. Did the same with her phone and alarm clock.
Rage swelled within her. Huge, towering, uncontainable rage that nearly smothered her with its intensity. Climbing out of bed, she grabbed the large, free-standing jewelry box Richard had given her for her thirty-fifth birthday and shoved it hard enough to have it tumbling onto its side. The mirrored tray she kept on the top of it came crashing down, along with her perfume bottles and hand creams. Its doors fell open, earrings and rings, bracelets and brooches, necklaces and watches tumbling drunkenly out.
She knew she should stop, knew she should crawl back into bed and pull the covers over her head like she had so many times before. But she was sick of hiding, sick of pretending all those horrible things hadn’t happened to her. They had happened, and damn it, she was furious that they had.
Rhiannon headed for the dresser on the other side of the room, picked up the beautiful vase she’d bought at her favorite furniture store and smashed it against the wood. Did the same to the tall, slender lamp and collection of odds and ends that rested on the other side of the dresser. Then picked up the music box Matt had given her the year before and heaved it, as hard as she could, against the wall. It hit a print she had hanging there, under glass, and both shattered, the picture frame crashing to the ground with a resounding thud.
She moved onto the chest of drawers near the door and did the same thing, until there was nothing left to throw. Nothing left in the entire room to destroy.
When she was finished, when the fury had left as suddenly as it had come, Rhiannon stepped gingerly through the mess. Closing her bedroom door firmly behind her, she sank onto the sofa and pulled the lavender afghan she had resting there over her. For the first time in a very long time, she fell asleep almost as soon as she closed her eyes.
#4, Sarah M! Congrats! Sarah M., write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll forward you mail to Vivi who will get you your copy.
I can’t believe it, but today is the final guest author at the Explosive contest. Whew. I hope you guys had a good time and that you’ll be sure to start looking out for Explosive in the bookstore. Remember that the drawing and announcement for the Kindle and gift certificate will take place here tomorrow, and you have to claim your prize. If no one claims prizes after 48 hours, I’ll move on to another name.
Up next, the fabulous Tracey Wolff–and pssst…she’s giving away not one, but two books!
I met Vivi Andrews at last year’s RT. She may say she’s ordinary in her blog, but she’s really a fun, smart, adventuresome lady. She’s giving away a download of winner’s choice of her backlist to one commenter at the Explosive contest! So…here’s Vivi.
I’ve been traveling recently and whenever my fellow tourists found out what I did for a living, they were instantly impressed and fascinated (which, frankly, is kind of weird since I’m not terribly impressive or fascinating). And they all, every single one, wanted to know if I was visiting these exotic foreign locales (Fiji, the Australian Outback, etc.) as research for my next book. I’m certain I disappointed them when I said no, I just wanted to go to Fiji and Australia ““same as they had. I might have shattered a few fantasy visions of the exotic species authorus romanticus by being nothing more exciting than a normal woman on a (semi) normal vacation.
I’m always intrigued by what people think a romance author should look and act like. The pink boas and bon-bons image may not be as prevalent as it once was, but the reality that most of us are stunningly normal seems to still be a bit hard to swallow. I run across a surprising number of people who expect me to be writing romance novels as thinly veiled auto-biographies. (Which, considering I write paranormal, would be a little freaky.) The truth is, I’m not a mirror image of the heroines in my books and I certainly don’t live their lives. (Thank God. I don’t have a very high tolerance for drama in my real life.)
There’s a little piece of me in each of my characters ““ with one it’s the sarcasm, another the freakish optimism, or the obsession with movies or the tendency to overanalyze everything. There’s always some access point, some commonality that lets me “get” the character, but they aren’t me. (And sadly, no studly bare-chested romance hero with washboard abs has tried to sweep me off my feet. Though hope springs eternal.)
The heroine in my upcoming release, No Angel, is the daughter of a celebrity family and marches into Hell (literally) to rescue her boyfriend, armed to the teeth. I can’t say that’s the kind of book I drew from personal experience. Write what you know will have to be applied loosely here. I’m just a boring, often fairly quiet girl with an overactive imagination and a tendency to make snarky remarks under my breath.
My books are funny; I’m really not. My heroines are extraordinary; I’m more-or-less standard issue. So I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m just a romance writer. If you want fun and fabulous and interesting, I’m afraid you’ll have to read the books.
No Angel Blurb
When Sasha’s boyfriend, Jay, is sucked through a fiery vortex to Hell, an angel reveals that Sasha’s been chosen as the Champion of Virtue in the battle for his immortal soul. As a perennial offender on Santa’s naughty list, Sasha can’t believe she’s anyone’s idea of a girl fighting on the side of the angels. But if she doesn’t save Jay, he’ll be stuck in Hell forever!
Jay—aka Jevroth—isn’t surprised to find himself back in Hell. His visa to visit the mortal plane expired three months ago, but to steal more time with Sasha he’s been ignoring his mother’s demands that he come home to spend time with his new stepfather: Lucifer.
Sasha has until dawn on the twenty-fifth of December to fight the Legions of Hell and rescue Jay, or be trapped there for eternity herself. But now she must decide if the lying son-of-a-demon is even worth saving…
Chapter One – Cloudy with a Chance of Angels
On the day Sasha Christian’s boyfriend got sucked into the fiery maw of Hell, she baked cookies.
This is not to say baking cookies will trigger abduction into the Underworld, but it is important to understand that this was not the sort of day on which one might expect one’s significant other to be kidnapped by demonic forces.
It was a Tuesday. And Christmas Eve.
Thirty minutes prior to the abduction, Sasha stood in the ten-items-or-less line at Ralph’s, holding a single bottle of molasses and fighting the temptation to count the items in the basket of the woman in front of her.
If she counted even eleven items, Sasha didn’t think she’d be able to stop herself from tackling the woman and bludgeoning her with her own canned yams until she retreated in blood-spattered shame to the three-mile-long non-express line. Since this would likely result in Sasha’s ejection from Ralph’s and force her to locate another grocery open at four-twenty on Christmas Eve where she could buy unsulfated molasses to finish her gingerbread cookies, she decided it was best to avert her eyes.
Instead, Sasha concentrated on the flat-screen above the checkstand where a twenty-four-hour news channel recapped the holiday frenzy in a highlight reel. Tinsel, holly, rosy-cheeked celebrity faces, blah blah blah.
She’d already seen the segment twice. Her oh-so-brilliant idea to pop out to the store had turned into a marathon shopping expedition. Just finding a parking space had taken more time than she’d planned for the entire trip.
Damn holiday crowds.
Sasha gritted her teeth and reminded herself that she loved the holidays. Jay was the Grinch in their relationship. During the rest of the year she might be the misanthropic one, but at Christmastime she was Tiny Tim, bouncing around God-bless-us-ing everyone…when she wasn’t entertaining violent fantasies about women who got in the ten-items-or-less line with at least eleven items, making her even later than she already was.
Four-twenty. Jay was due at her place in ten minutes and instead of the Christmas utopia she’d planned as a surprise for her bah-humbug boyfriend, he would find an empty apartment with a bowl of gingerbread goo in the kitchen.
If the apartment was still there at all. Sasha was reasonably certain she’d left the oven on.
The fact the news channel hadn’t broken in with a live aerial shot of her apartment building in flames was somewhat comforting. The holiday montage continued with footage of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels from earlier that afternoon.
A slow, panning shot of the courtyard showed a throng worthy of Times Square on New Year’s Eve, jostling and chorusing a barely identifiable rendition of “Hark the Herald” as they stared skyward. The first angel mass always did draw a crowd.
Dark clouds—imported from Seattle for the occasion, no doubt—layered the Los Angeles sky above the blocky, geometric cathedral. On cue, as the bells began to peal, a hole opened in the clouds like a camera iris widening. Spears of sunlight streaked down to gild the tan stone of the cathedral, lighting the alabaster cross that thrust out over the plaza, but no one in the crowded courtyard was looking at the building.
All eyes were on the gap expanding in the clouds as a figure appeared, riding the rays of light.
Gold-kissed wings spread wide in an eight-foot span to slow his approach until the white-robed figure seemed to float on his graceful descent from the heavens
Sasha rolled her eyes. How cliché can you get? Trust an angel to play it up for the crowd. The holier-than-thou bastards were worse than starlets when it came to mugging for the cameras.
The winner of Explosive is…#9, Amelia!! Congrats, Amelia. Write to me at email@example.com to claim your prize!
I got a terrific new review of Explosive from the Barnes and Noble Heart to Heart blog this morning that I really wanted to share. I hope you’ll check it out–Marisa has a question about whether or not you like heat in your romantic suspense. I’ll be interested in seeing those answers.
Okay…so only two more days for the Explosive contest before I announce the big winners this Wednesday. Next up, hang out with Vivi Andrews for a while and qualify to win one of her back copy books. She’s a very fun lady to hang with.
Oh, and give me a write at firstname.lastname@example.org when you first see Explosive on the shelves and where. I’d love to know.
The time is drawing near when Explosive is going to be in stores. I’m giving readers one more chance to win the book–I’ll announce the giveaway on Monday morning, before I post Vivi Andrews feature. Don’t forget…the winners of the BIG Explosive giveaway will be on December 1, 2010 here at the blog.
Authors go back and forth between whether long or short excerpts are good, but I’ve already offered shorter ones at other blogs and here on my site. So here’s a longer excerpt for you of Explosive. As most of you know, I tend to like super-charged tension between my heroes and heroines.
OH–I should add, if you read the excerpt here at my site on the Explosive page second after this one, , you’ll get an even longer excerpt. So read here, then the link I just provided. There’s some overlap, but you’ll get a bigger picture of the style and tone.
Comment on the excerpt (not randomly please) to qualify to win a copy of Explosive Monday morning. Enjoy, and good luck! Be sure to look for Explosive in bookstores on Dec 7.
Available in stores and online December 7, 2010.
The wraparound porch was a landscape of golden light and shadow when she led him up the side entrance to the house. The door squeaked open, and she led him onto the screened-in portion of the porch. Their hands were still locked, so she felt it when he paused. She turned back to see him staring at her work in progress. He glanced from the painting to the lake, and back at the canvas again, his expression unreadable.
“It’s not very good. I just do it for fun,” she said, wondering why she whispered. Maybe it was because the atmosphere suddenly seemed electrically charged, expectant . . . like the air before a storm. Her breath stilled when he suddenly transferred his gaze to her naked abdomen.
“I was wondering why you had purple paint on you.” She gave a small laugh when she saw how his well-shaped lips quirked—very slightly—in amusement. “I used to tell Rick you were like the little girl in the neighborhood who was always so clean; the kind that Mama wouldn’t let play rough with the other kids . . . the kind that was never allowed to get dirty.”
His palpable gaze flickered over her breasts and neck before he met her stare. Her mirth faded. “Rick said that was just my lame excuse not to ask you out,” he finished.
Sophie swallowed thickly. This situation just kept getting more and more bizarre. She knew from her friend Andy how close Thomas had been to his brother, Rick Carlisle. Not that she wouldn’t have already guessed it the few times she’d witnessed the two men’s easy camaraderie when she’d glimpsed them together in her office or in the building.
“You must be upset, Tom,” she whispered. “Is that why you’re here? Are you hurting . . . after your brother’s and nephew’s death?” His eyes glittered with emotion in an otherwise masklike countenance. “Come inside.” She tightened her hold on his hand and guided him down the dim hallway to the kitchen. The windows there faced east, depriving them of the sunset light. She flipped a switch, chasing away the dark shadows.
If she’d thought that electric lights and her cheery, homey kitchen would bring a sense of normalcy to this surreal situation, she’d thought wrong. One glance at Thomas’s tall, whipcord lean body and rigid features and she existed in the Twilight Zone all over again.
Perhaps it was the thick, nearly tangible cloud of tension that surrounded him that contributed to her sense of floundering for familiar territory.
She released his hand and headed toward the refrigerator, trying to shake off her sense of unease.
“I made fresh lemonade earlier today. Would you care for some?”
“Do you have anything harder?” he rasped.
She glanced back over her shoulder. “I have some wine in the pantry.”
“Never mind. Lemonade is fine.”
She studied him anxiously. Under the bright fluorescent lights, she could more easily see that a fine sheen of sweat covered his face.
Fever, she thought.
“Why don’t you sit down at the bar,” she suggested before she headed toward the refrigerator. She filled two glasses with ice and lemonade and handed him one. He hadn’t taken her advice to sit down and still stood in the precise spot where she’d left him. He took the glass and drained the contents in two seconds. When he’d finished, she took the empty glass and gave him the other one. While he drank, she encircled the wrist of his free hand with her own.
He swallowed the second glass of lemonade almost as quickly as the first. When he’d finished, she sensed him watching her from above, his head lowered while she concentrated, and counted the beats of his rapid, strong pulse and watched the seconds pass on her kitchen clock.
The silence seemed to press on them like a thick cloak.
“Would you like some more?” she asked after she’d finished and dropped his wrist.
“No. I’ve had enough.”
“Tom, you’re ill,” she said, looking up at him.
He blinked. He glanced around her kitchen with a slight scowl on his features. His confusion seemed to fade when he looked at her face again.
“You might be right. I’m not sure how I got here.”
She took the glass he held from his stiff grip and set it along with the other one on the kitchen island.
“Do you mean you don’t remember?”
For a few seconds he seemed uncertain. “I remember driving here. I had to get away.”
“Had to get away from what?” she asked slowly.
He just stared at her with those brooding green eyes flecked with gold. Sophie supposed that given everything that had happened to Thomas Nicasio lately, he had plenty of reasons for needing an escape.
He remained immobile when she reached up to touch his forehead and cheek. His skin felt clammy. She mentally cursed when she recalled she didn’t have a thermometer in the lake house. Still, she’d guess that if he ran a fever, it wasn’t an alarming one.
Her fingers delved through thick, surprisingly soft hair, searching for wounds on his scalp. A shiver coursed through him when her hand reached the base of his skull. She caught his scent. Despite his obvious illness and uncharacteristically disheveled state, Thomas Nicasio smelled good.
Cautiously, she met his stare.
For a few seconds, neither of them moved. Sophie suspected neither of them breathed.
“Did you hit your head, Tom?” she asked eventually, her fingers resuming their careful search.
“I don’t think so.”
“Have you been drinking?” she asked, even though she’d inhaled his breath and already suspected that he wasn’t drunk. He shook his head.
Again, he shook his head. She pushed back his hair. Her gaze shot to his when she saw the discoloration near his hairline on his left temple.
“You have been hit.” She reached for the wrist of his right arm, holding his stare all the while. Her mind churned when she glanced down and saw the abrasions and flecks of dried blood on his knuckle.
“You’ve been in a fight,” she stated tersely. Did a shadow of defiance cross his features, or was that her imagination? Well, perhaps she had sounded accusatory. It wasn’t her place to judge him, after all. “Are you in any pain?”
“Sick to your stomach?”
He shrugged negligently.
“How is it that you’re here, Tom?” she asked, despite the memory of what he’d said earlier.
I came looking for you, Sophie.
He wasn’t entirely lucid, after all.
“Do you know someone who lives near here?” she prompted when he didn’t speak.
“No. I only know you.”
“Well . . . why did you come looking for me?” she couldn’t resist asking in an anxious rush. “Did you find yourself getting ill on the road and need a doctor? Did you remember me telling you I was vacationing here, at Haven Lake?”
A spasm went through him and he cupped his right brow with his palm, squeezing his eyes shut.
“I’m taking you to the emergency room in Effingham,” she declared, alarmed by the sight of what must have been a jolt of intense pain going through him.
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“But you’ve got to, you’re not well and—”
“I’m not going to the hospital,” he grated out between clenched teeth.
She went completely still at his harsh tone. She considered calling the police, but then he opened his eyes.
The two words leaving her own lips surprised her a little, but she felt as if she didn’t have a choice once she’d looked into those twin pools of turmoil and anguish. “You might have a concussion, but you’re feverish, as well. I’ll get you some Tylenol and then you need to rest. Will you at least promise me to do that for now?”
“I’m not sleepy,” he said hoarsely. His gaze lowered. Heat flooded her cheeks. He stared at her breasts covered in the thin bikini top. Her body responded to his blatantly sexual gaze against her will. Her nipples stiffened beneath the flimsy fabric
I always say that writing a novella or short is such an art. I’ve also often remarked that Lacey Savage is really good at it. Luckily for us, she’s going to give tips on what creates a great novella-good stuff for either a reader or writer to understand. Welcome friend and author Lacey Savage to the Explosive contest!
The Effortless Short Story
by Lacey Savage
Some authors claim writing a short story is more difficult than penning an entire novel. I’ve never been one of those authors.
For me, a short story forms naturally. It’s (dare I say it?) effortless to write. It practically falls from my fingertips onto the page, and it rarely needs revisions before being submitted.
In contrast, a novel is a nightmare to write. I get tangled in plot threads, confused by my characters, and uncertain about how much detail is too much detail. I still write novels, and I’m happy with the results when I finally submit one to my editor, but the process is never anywhere close to effortless.
The tight focus of a short story suits my limited attention span rather well. Because of the low word count, I’m constrained by a number of factors. Yet rather than finding this limiting, I’m forced to just… tell the story. One event and its repercussions. One glimpse into the lives of interesting people, caught doing interesting things.
My writing career started with a short story. I’ll willing to bet that when I’m old and gray and can barely see the computer screen, my writing career will end with a short story, too.
Until then, here are a few things I’ve learned about the art of the short story:
1. One major event. When I only have a few thousand words to work with, I don’t have time to tell you about my character’s tryst with the milkman, the male stripper orgy during her 30th birthday party, the time she got run off the road by a garbage truck, and the day she adopted a puppy. I have to choose one event (I’m partial to the stripper orgy, but that’s just me), and focus in on it. I zoom in tight, just like I would through a camera lens. Then I capture that night in all its marvelous glory, and put you smack-dab in the middle of that party.
2. Suck in those timelines. This goes hand in hand with my first point. Since I’ve closed in on that unforgettable event, and I’m having you experience it along with my heroine, then we don’t need to meander all over the place. You don’t care that she went shopping for a blue dress with gold sequins the day before. Or that a week later she’s trying to return the dress but the salesperson notices a tell-tale stain on the front and refuses to take it back. Sure, I can probably write some interesting scenes around those two scenarios, but neither has anything to do with the strippers… or the reason I’m telling this story.
3. The fewer characters, the better. When I’m limited by word count, I can’t have a huge cast of characters parading on stage. So you’re not likely to see the heroine’s mom, dad, boss, sister, brother, cousin, night school teacher, or doorman. You will, however, get to know the heroine very well. And since I write romance, you’ll get to know her hero, too. But let’s go back to our stripper scenario for a minute. The story may involve a group of men, but that doesn’t mean they’re all equally as important. I have to decide who the hero is (and there could be more than one), and then limit the heroine’s interactions to dealing specifically with him, so she’s as focused on her hero as the reader will be. She can still have a bit of fun with the other men if she chooses, but they’ll always be in the background. Center stage belongs to the hero and the heroine. No one else.
4. Limited point of view. I’m partial to first person point of view, myself. I love seeing the world through one person’s eyes. But even if I’m writing in third person, that doesn’t mean I can’t limit my point of view. You’ll definitely get the heroine’s. You may get the hero’s. But that’s it.
5. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am. That’s just what it sounds like: get in, do what needs to be done, and get out. Once the event is finished, so is the story. I’m probably not going to show you that the heroine wakes up with the world’s worst hangover the next day. Or that her best friend has made off with everyone’s jewelry and wallets while the guests were passed out. Although that could set off an interesting subplot in a novel, the short story really is all about one event. I can’t say this enough. When the stripper orgy is over, so is the story.
How do you feel about short stories? Have you noticed any common elements in the short stories you’ve enjoyed?
Lacey’s most recent short story releases December 2nd at Ellora’s Cave: Voices in the Dark
Maddie’s coworkers have no idea that she gets off on calling random men, whispering raunchy fantasies in their ears and hearing them orgasm at the sound of her voice. Her fetish is fun, daring and most importantly, safe. That’s paramount for a transplanted Texan now living in New York.
Sex with strangers is risky. Phone sex is totally anonymous. Until Maddie calls a coworker by mistake. And when Adrian recognizes her voice, he turns her safe little fetish into a dangerous game. One that Maddie can’t possibly win.
Leave Lacey a comment about her book or informative article and qualify to win a $10 Amazon gift card!
Congrats, Tracey! Write me at email@example.com, and I’ll forward your info on to HelenKay. Thanks to HelenKay for taking part, and to everyone who participated.
Well, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and your busy doing some major relaxing or major Black Friday planning, or whatever. Whatever you do this evening and tomorrow, make sure you check out Lacey Savage’s insights into writing shorts and novellas. And she’s giving away a super spicy story to show her expertise…
HelenKay Dimon is at the Explosive Contest! I met HelenKay at the Lori Foster even last year. She’s a very smart, nice lady, so join me in giving her a big welcome!
BK: Thank you so much for joining me at the Explosive contest, HelenKay!
Your latest, Impulsive, sounds just wonderful. I love the idea of a bad-girl being reformed by a straight-edge, hot guy. Where did you get the idea for this book? Why did you decide to set it in Hawaii?
HKD: Thank you for inviting me! I’m thrilled to be here.
This is the book I never planned to write. I have a series of contemporary romances set in Hawaii. They are standalone stories but share some of the same characters. While writing the previous one, HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO (November 2010), a secondary character appeared and took on more of a role than I expected. Eric Kimura was this serious prosecutor with an eye toward political office. He was also the ex-boyfriend of the heroine in HOFAH. He wasn’t the typical lousy ex. He was a decent guy who tried to the do the right thing and it backfired on him.
By the time I finished HOFAH I knew I had to write Eric’s story and let the guy have a happy ending of his own. Of course, the only way to do that was to loosen him up a bit. And then along came wild child Katie Long and poor Eric didn’t stand a chance.
BK: Your Mouth Drives Me Crazy, Guns and the Girl Next Door, Victoria’s Got a Secret…OMG, your titles are the best! Do you usually come up with your titles or is it a group effort with your editor, publisher, etc.? (However, you get them, I’m really jealous ). 🙂
HKD: They’re great, aren’t they? Honestly, I can’t take credit for any of them! Three different editors and three different publishing houses came up with them. I can write the books but, for whatever reason, when it’s time to come up with a title all I get in my brain is: “uh…” I have zero ability to pick good titles. Thank goodness my editors excel at the task.
BKK: You’ve expanded your writing into the Harlequin Intrigue line. I spoke with you a bit about this at Lori Foster’s event last year, but can you tell the readers what that shift has been like for you? What changes have you made in your plot research, writing style and voice, if any? What was the reaction of the readers when you added category to your repertoire along with super steamy love stories? Any stories about the opposite…reactions from Harlequin Intrigue readers who discover your hot romances?
HKD: It was more of an addition than a shift. About two years ago my agent asked if there was something I wanted to write in addition to single title contemporary romance. I had always been a huge fan of mysteries and romantic suspense, and I had just read several Intrigues as a judge in the RITA contest (the annual Romance Writers of America contest for the best books of the year), so I said I ‘d love to write an Intrigue. My agent’s response was so practical. He said, “so, why aren’t you trying that?” That’s all it took for me to try.
My Intrigues are different in tone from my contemporary single titles but I think my voice is the same ““ a teeny bit sarcastic. The biggest differences is that the Intrigues aren’t as sexually graphic, although the ones coming out in 2011 are steamier than the ones I wrote for 2010. The pacing is shockingly fast and the plot has to be very tight to fit into the short word count of an Intrigue. I actually think writing Intrigue has improved my writing overall and helped me focus in on what is really necessary for the story.
I have been very lucky in that Intrigue fans have welcomed me. These readers are devoted to the line and very sweet. A few who have crossed over to my single titles were surprised the heat level was higher, but overall the reaction from both sets of readers have been good. From the editing to the readers, my experience with Harlequin has been very positive. I’m hoping to be able to juggle both a single title career and a category career for a nice long time.
BK: What’s coming up for you in the near future?
HKD: I have a four-book miniseries coming out in 2011 from Harlequin Intrigue called Mystery Men. Talk about good titles: GUNS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (January), GUNNING FOR TROUBLE (February), LOCKED AND LOADED (August) and THE BIG GUNS (September). The books center on a conspiracy in the Witness Security Program (WitSec). The heroes are tough undercover agents and the women are just as strong.
In March I have a single title in the new reality-based True Vows line called VICTORIA’S GOT A SECRET. I am so excited about this book. It tells the romance of Victoria Sinclair, the original and lead anchor of Naked News. Her story is amazing and her husband Paul is pure romance hero material.
Thank you again for inviting me!
Katie Long was supposed to be undercover. She was just supposed to watch Deputy Prosecutor Eric Kimura at his ex’s wedding and gather intel on his campaign for prosecutor. But he’s a lot hotter in person, and the kind of intel they accidentally shared in the hotel bathroom might lose both of them their jobs. Especially since it seems to be a recurring incident. Is it possible for a one-night stand to last ten days?
Kimura isn’t usually the impulsive type. He’s driven, he’s ambitious, and he knows what he wants—a respectable future in Hawaii politics. Which means wild half-public sex with a beautiful stranger in a short little caterer’s skirt is just tabloid fodder waiting to happen. Conveniently, just as his campaign is coming under attack. Sabotage, media gossip, and an insatiable desire for a woman he just met? If he’s not careful, Counselor Kimura might lose all control…
#5, Anne! Congrats! Anne, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org to claim your JJ book. You are going to love Something About You!
Hope everyone is going to have a fun, not too busy Thanksgiving Eve. 🙂 Are they ever not busy? No, I didn’t think so, but have fun anyway. Here’s something to make your crazy busy preparations a bit more fun: Up next, the awesome HelenKay Dimon and a giveaway of her latest, IMPULSIVE!