Author Archives: April Dawn

Image

Don Fedora has been released


Don Fedora has been released

Hello, everybody!

In an attempt to establish credentials for treasure-hunter Don Fedora, the main character of “Cairo Heat”, I thought it might be a good idea to present personal testimonials from other characters in the story:

“Mr. F is a tawdry novel with a nice cover.”
—Ms. Victoria Chase, celebrated photographer

“Him? He steals things.”
—Lester, part-time thug and body guard.

“How could I focus on driving with him in the backseat, kicking me in the head?”
—Max, chauffeur

“Don Fedora got me killed.”
—Amun, personal acquaintance and business associate (now deceased)

“I don’t know his name, I’m vague about his face, and I’m trying very hard to forget his manners.”
—Mr. Felton C. Carew, esq.

Gee, if only I could get recommendations like that! Anyway, if you like adventure stories with romance, suspense, a mummy or two, and shocking fits of temper, then I think you’ll enjoy “Cairo Heat”.

(Actually, the fits of temper aren’t so bad—I just succumbed to a little promotional hyperbole)

Anthony Diesso
https://www.facebook.com/anthony.diesso

Advertisements
Image

Cover reveal for Awakened, The Fetish Club #6 (Out Aug 27th)


Cover reveal for Awakened, The Fetish Club #6 (Out Aug 27th)

Nina St James divorced herself from romance a year ago when she divorced her cheating husband. Still, as an erotic romance author, she has deadlines to meet. Hoping to be inspired, she heads to the local fetish club to research all the exotic toys and furnishings, and of course the unique people.

Deven and Daniel Jacobs remember the vibrant sexy writer whose books had intrigued them since they’d moved to America. The woman who faded into insecurity after she caught her bloody bastard of a husband cheating. Deven and Daniel vow, after seeing her in a local fetish club, that they will reawaken, and claim, the kinky sex kitten they’ve been fantasizing about for years.

Guest post – Karen Frisch – Lost in Translation


Please help me welcome back Karen Frisch, author of What’s In A Name.

LOST IN TRANSLATION

By Karen Frisch

 

Let’s face it, the heart of writing of revising. The process is about as lonely as walking a narrow path on a mountaintop with steep sides. It’s wide enough for only one—you, the writer, and the characters in your head. No writer knows on Page One every twist the story will take until she writes The End. Some writers don’t even know the end until they get there.

Experienced writers know one thing is certain. If you want to tell a good story, you can’t be too attached to every word. While some writers expand the bare bones of an idea in the editing process, others take the lengthy original version and translate it into crisp, poignant writing. They watch the incredible shrinking paragraph without fear, confident they can improve it.

Our challenge as writers is to find the best possible expression of our ideas. When we first write them, they’re spur of the moment thoughts that won’t necessarily work once the novel is complete. We write, then we rewrite.

The biggest challenge is to keep extra words from muddling what we want to say. The process of rewriting adds precision by deleting extraneous words. Compare the following paragraphs.

Early Version: “Sophy spent the late afternoon hours putting decorative touches in the drawing room. While she set candles about the room and edged the sideboard with strands of ivy to add to the festive appearance, the activity failed to improve her mood. On the far side of the room her sisters-in-law moved about, discussing tomorrow’s dinner in low tones, deciding who should sit where as they contemplated a seating arrangement that would please everyone present. Glad they were busy with their own concerns, Sophy sat gazing out the window when she had finished decorating, trying to bring the turmoil she felt under control.”

Revision: “Sophy filled the late afternoon setting candles about the drawing room and edging the sideboard with strands of ivy for tomorrow’s festivities, but her heart remained a leaden weight. Across the room her sisters-in-law quietly discussed tomorrow’s dinner, trying to organize a seating arrangement to satisfy everyone. Relieved they were preoccupied, Sophy paused to gaze out the window, trying to quell the pain that had stolen her joy.”

You can hear the difference. To paraphrase the Beatles, it’s getting better over time. That’s what editing is—the willingness to get rid of something you love to make it stronger. Some writers feel a book is only finished when an editor demands it from them. Even then, we know we’ll see our darling manuscript again when it’s time for a line edit!

What we lose in translation we gain in strength. Our writing improves when we listen to our own inner voice. And whose voice is it anyway? We’ll save that conversation for another day.

 

Karen Frisch’s historical romance What’s in a Name is now available as an e-book and in paperback from Amazon. She has also written a Victorian mystery, Murder Most Civil, and a Regency romance, Lady Delphinia’s Deception. All are available on Amazon, as are her two genealogy books, Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs and Creating Junior Genealogists.

 

—-
Thanks for visiting us here at Let’s Talk Romance.
—-

April Dawn
Author of Crushing Desire and Bound By Love

Guest post – Anthony Diesso


Please welcome Anthony Diesso, author of The Haunted Spring. (AKA our old friend and blog-hacker Feebil E Willie.)

—-

Hello, everybody!

As my novel, The Haunted Spring, is just now floating in on the e-book ether, like a huge conversation bubble let loose from the cartoon head that made it, I thought I might say a few things about it in way of an introduction.

It’s a pretty straightforward story, actually: a young man, a young woman, love, new life, then loss, and finally life again. There’s also a ghost. But as for what “type” of story it is, I wish I could tell you. Maybe I should have asked someone while writing it, but it’s probably too late now. The whole dilemma might have also made for a good contest, a sort of sideshow, “Guess what the thing is” type of promotion, but I didn’t rent out the booth in time.The Haunted Spring could be, in one way or another, a serious comedy, a slice of life in which impossible things happen, or, perhaps most accurately, a ghost story that wants to be about something else.
It may also have the soul of a toddler, carefully building things up for the sheer joy of knocking them down. Ruins and people are an endless curiosity (to me at least), which could mean that ruins of people pretty much top the list. In describing the relationship of Jay and Anna, I went through a lot of trouble to walk through the door (so to speak), carefully spread my blanket of objects, stomp and break each one, heap them all together, then back out the way I came. I don’t think I have a mean streak: I’m sort of fond of my imaginary friends. But I guess I thought it was my job to set them down with a degree ofsadistic compassion, to sympathize with them as I put them through so much hell and trouble.Much of the story is based upon my wife’s and my experience in an NICU ward after our son was born about three months premature.  The book scarcely does justice to the parents I met there and what they endured: in many cases, months of agonizing hope, the daily watch, the updates by doctors and nurses, their pinning everything to words similar to those told me by the doctor on the night my son was born: “He’s stable, and we expect him to survive.” My boy is four now, and so spunky that it’s sometimes easy to forget how he fought his way into  the world and how he fought to stay there.  But opening an old box and picking up an extra pair of diapers we had but never used, seeing how they fit snugly around three of my fingers, reminds me of where my son was, where my wife and I were, and where so many fine people–parents, doctors, nurses–were fighting and are still fighting.The ending of The Haunted Spring is, I think, a happy one, although one involving sacrifice. I hope the reader doesn’t consider reaching the book’s conclusion a sacrifice as well. I put in as much wit and mystery and humor as I could. It’s devoid of social “insights”, and there doesn’t seem to be a lesson in it, either: I did my very best to keep one out.  I’m not didactic by nature (and if I had the chance, why, I’d sit you down and prove it), and I never learn from my mistakes: at best, I simply learn new and curious ways to repeat them.
Anyway, Death Valley Scotty, a man whom I’ve never met, and about whom I know very little (which is to say, someone I can put my absolute faith in), once said, “Don’t complain; don’t explain”. He’s dead now, but not from that philosophy; and to keep from pushing my book so hard that I send it over a cliff, I think I’d better respect his sound advice and break off here. By the way, I’ve dedicated The Haunted Spring to my wife, who certainly deserves it. If it wasn’t for her endless…wait, that last sentence doesn’t sound quite right. But rather than explain, I guess now’s a pretty good place to sneak out.
Best,
Anthony Diesso
—-
  • Excerpt
We sat down, poked through the menu, and when the waiter arrived, we ordered an Aztec tortilla soup. I ate having only a vague idea of how it tasted: warm and salty. Anna must have noticed my distraction, as I rolled the paper wrapping off a straw around my thumb and index finger.
“Well, how do you like your mummy?” she asked, referring to the crisp, tortilla strips that floated in the broth,
I looked down, snorted as I laughed. “Fine. The wrappings are done just right.”
“I wasn’t sure. You seemed to be lost in deep reflection.”
“Uh-huh. I’m staring at my face in the soup.”
“Oh. Anything interesting?”
“I have wobbly skin, and my complexion is awful.”
“Hmm…I suppose you never can tell what people are thinking when they’re quiet.”
“Actually, I was quiet but not all that thoughtful. It’s just a habit. Sit still and don’t think of anything. People will read thoughts into your face, and they think you’re profound.”
“That’s quite a system, Jay.”
“It’s worked pretty well. I’ve got a steady job, and friends, and not too many enemies, and parents who still love me, and aunts and uncles who send cards on Christmas.” I smiled widely, without showing teeth. That was the first time she’d said my name, and the intimacy of it lingered in my thoughts.
The hours blurred by. Daylight from the window peripherally thinned as I focused on the woman in front of me: her shy though earnest glances, the way something I said could touch her face, its candle-lit and lustrous, although delicately shaded moods. And without sounding like a prospective employer—or a nag—I was also able to piece together a bit of her personal history. It did become, for some unreasonable reason, sort of a mission, rather than a simple curiosity. I don’t know why it’s like that. How many men admire a woman for her mystery while trying to pluck out all her secrets? I suppose there’s almost something religious about it.
Gradually the peculiar knick-knacks on the walls, the slits of twilight through the window blinds began to seep into our talk. We never mentioned them directly, but they quieted our speech, and shadowed innocuous topics like our childhoods and older family members.
“Oh, by the way,” I asked, “what was the story that you mentioned on our walk?”
“That’s right,” she muttered after a pause, rubbing her first and middle fingers against an eyebrow. “I, uh… at the age of eight, I lost my grandmother. She was older… you know. We’d spent a lot of time together during her final illness. She had to stay indoors, because of the late summer chill, so I’d go outside, collect garden flowers in my skirt and bring them in to her. I’d lay them on her lap, upon the blanket, and her eyes would grow this wide. Then she’d reach out a shaky arm to touch my shoulder. She’d try to lean forward, out of the chair, but I’d step nearer, and she’d plant a wobbly kiss—mwah! Then I’d step back, and she’d just look at me and give me this sort of puckered smile, without any teeth.
“She died quietly during the night, in bed, and, in the morning, before she was removed, my mother brought me in to say goodbye and to touch her hand. I was taught the soul stays until the body’s placed into the ground, so I began to look about, in the room, the yard, before the slowly bleeding autumn trees. I kept wiping my eyes and looking very hard, but still I couldn’t find it.
“That night I dreamt. My grandmother came to me in my bedroom, distressed over a bruise on her forehead. And pointing with twitchy fingers to the wound, she cried, ‘Anna, look! You see? My head—there’s blood.’
“And I reminded her, “But…but Grandma, you’re dead.”
“’Dead?’ she asked.”
I lowered eyes away from Anna. And for a moment I stalled, hoping to come up with a reply better than “Oh, how sad—,” or “Isn’t life strange—,” or “We shouldn’t dwell on such events—.” The silence grew worse, so that I finally blurted out, “Would you like a drink?”
“No, thank you. But don’t let me stop you.” She was about to add something; yet with her lips just parted, having breathed out a starting vowel, she stopped, and released her thought as a gentle exhalation.
Walking back to the apartments, in that dusk of broadening dark and sour light, we spoke less frequently. There was a quiet that had settled over both of us, over the fronts of houses, doors and windows painted with the hour. The road and sidewalk glowed rosily, with a trim of rusty shadow, and above, the clouded twilight, like a basket of ripened peaches, shone all puffs of swollen orange, red and blue. I was going to comment on it, but I looked at Anna looking at me and smiling rosily. And working up my nerve to not say anything, I simply nodded and smiled back.

Guest Post – Karen Frisch – End To Beginning


Please welcome back our monthly guest, Karen Frisch, author of What’s in a Name.

—-

In “The Dreaded Synopsis: Last Things First,” I described how helpful it was to have the synopsis ready before the story so I could use it as a reference (https://letstalkromance.wordpress.com/2011/07/20/guest-karen-frisch/). It created a road map to help me navigate my way through the novel without getting sidetracked. With my new novella, I realize the synopsis isn’t the only thing that should get done early in the writing process.

 

For the novella, writing part of the ending first rather than writing in sequence helped me develop the romantic relationship. Let’s face it, bringing a hero and heroine together in a novel can be as awkward and filled with pitfalls as it is in real life. For one thing, the author doesn’t have the luxury of time in terms of pages. Sometimes two strangers must become a couple within 50,000 words. In a novella, it’s even fewer.

 

I doubt true love develops in real life within the first 50,000 words that are exchanged by a couple. And what about stubborn heroes and heroines who hang on to their conflicts longer than they should? The more realistic we make their situations, the more complicated it becomes for us as writers. Pity the poor author who has to play matchmaker with this pair. To light a match under these characters, you practically need a torch.

 

I discovered the most effective way for me to play fairy godmother with my novella’s hero and heroine was to write the final love scene that closes the story early in the writing process. The scene revealed the mood, tone, and depth of the couple’s love. Writing it first showed me the level of emotion they needed to achieve by the story’s end.

 

It also reminded me I only had between 80 and 100 pages in which to reach my goal. The next step was to figure out specific scenes I needed to get the hero and heroine to the end and to pace the scenes accordingly. That meant I had to condense scenes I’d already written and find ways to bring the hero and heroine closer emotionally earlier in the story. These realizations forced me to think more efficiently and helped me save time.

 

In short, I was able to bring the pair together faster to create a more compelling story. Doing so saved me from writing scenes I wouldn’t have had room to include anyway. I hate having to murder my darlings, as the saying goes, but sometimes word count necessitates it. I learned a lesson that helped create a better story. And all any author wants, after all, is to keep her audience reading happily ever after.

 

 

(Karen Frisch is currently working on her next Regency romance for ImaJinn Books. She is the author of three published novels: the Regency Lady Delphinia’s Deception from ImaJinn, the historical romance What’s in a Name from Amazon/Avalon , and the Victorian mystery Murder Most Civil from Mainly Murder Press. All are available on Amazon, as are her two genealogy books, Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs and Creating Junior Genealogists.)

April Dawn,

Author of Crushing Desire and Bound by Love, available now.

Guest Post – Karen Frisch – THE BIRTH OF IDEAS


Please welcome our monthly poster, Karen Frisch, author of What’s in a Name back to Let’s Talk Romance.

THE BIRTH OF IDEAS
By Karen Frisch

Desperately seeking ideas? Take heart, you’re not alone. Sooner or later, every writer fights that battle. The harder we struggle to find plots, characters, or other story essentials, the more elusive they become. Ideas can come from anywhere, though not necessarily in time to help when we need them. What works for one writer doesn’t always work for another.

Many of us start with some coffee, carve out a little time to brainstorm, and hope for the best, when often a jumpstart is easier and more effective. Here are five ways to stir a sluggish or inactive imagination, with ideas to move you forward.

1) Visit places you’ve never been. I’m not suggesting you hop on a plane to Paris. Traveling to a local herb farm with an outdoor café, driving to a town three hours away, or browsing in a bookstore all have one thing in common. They inspire us because they show us something we haven’t seen before. New places can prompt us to imagine what might take place there. They reveal landscape, architecture, or customs that might be unfamiliar to us, and yet they’re close enough to return to if you decide to use them in a story. Example: Sitting at the herb farm’s outdoor café having a cup of tea, you notice a woman enter a nearby greenhouse. Your mind wanders until fifteen minutes later her husband is frantically searching for her. Although you never saw her come out, there’s no sign of her inside. Did you notice anything special about her? Could her disappearance have been deliberate?

2) Delve into the Internet. Investigate subjects you’ve always been curious about, research baby names, or call up plot ideas on a writing website. Explore to your heart’s content since searches by their very nature stir the imagination. Whether aimless or intentional, online searches usually lead from one thing to another, turning up all kinds of topics writers never considered putting into a book—until now. Example: A husband and wife traveling from Oregon to Wyoming spend two nights on the road, checking in by cell phone with the wife’s sister in Wyoming before they disappear somewhere in Idaho. How long does the worried sister wait before contacting police?

3) Play the “What if” game. Mystery authors see life through the eyes of their detective while romance writers see relationships and situations, yet they all start with what if. Need to see it in black and white? Make a list of “types” of men and women. For men, consider traditional types: athletic, medical, businesslike, saving-the-planet types, or down-on-the-farm types. For women, think of various archetypes: professional woman, always a bridesmaid, urban schoolteacher, craftswoman, or nurse. Next, give someone a situation. Example: The high-stakes deal maker from Los Angeles is forced to relocate to rural Vermont for an extended period when his younger sister faces long-term hospitalization and needs someone to care for her small farm filled with rescued animals.

4) Consider a difficult situation you or a friend has endured, and look at how he or she worked through it. Real life is a great teacher when it comes to creating convincing scenes that contain depth. When you create realistic problems for your characters, however, the problem of getting them out of the situation becomes your problem. Why struggle when you can meet a friend or writing partner for coffee and inspiration? Someone else’s problem is always easier to fix than your own, and the handling of it is often inspiring. Example: Suzanne’s husband announces he has tired of their marriage just as she discovers she’s pregnant. Does she tell him?

5) Look to news headlines for intriguing scenarios. Watch for unsolved mysteries in the news. Whether local or national, there’s always a story that hits a nerve with each of us. Pick a fictional first name for your female character, put her into a situation, and explore how she might handle it. Example: Gina walks up her porch steps after dark and sees the front door open and a light coming from a back room. What does she do next?

To give yourself an incentive, re-read something you’ve written that you were especially pleased with, published or not. It will boost your confidence and make writing’s rough road a little easier.

(Karen Frisch is the author of three published novels: the historical romance What’s in a Name from Avalon, the Regency Lady Delphinia’s Deception from ImaJinn Books, and the Victorian mystery Murder Most Civil from Mainly Murder Press. All are available on Amazon, as are her two genealogy books, Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs and Creating Junior Genealogists.)

The Winner of the Dark Daze Release Day Giveaway is…


Ginny!

Congratulations on winning a copy of Dark Daze, by Ava Delany. I’ve sent you an email, please respond to confirm your address so I can pass along the gift card for the book.

Keep an eye out or Ava’s blog tour, July 15th-19th to win more copies

 

 

Release Day Announcement and Giveaway – Dark Daze


Sorry to have gotten this up so late.

Today is the release of Dark Daze, by Ava Delany..

Dark Daze is a paranormal romance novel about danger and love after a time of change. The end of days. The end of the Mayan calendar.

Image
On Dec 21, 2012, at 2:12pm, the sky went dark all over the world, and people’s lives changed in ways they feared to admit. Thousands died in accidents while others claimed to have seen demons and found themselves locked up in their local psychiatric ward. Scientists explained away the phenomenon, and things seemed to return to normal.

After a decade of trying to conceal a power she never expected or wanted, Brie Duval was used to being alone. When life—or more appropriately, a meddling friend, sends her on a blind date with Ian Connors, she discovers she wasn’t the only person to gain powers that day.

They find themselves falling in love while on the run from a creature with eyes that suck in light and a force that controls their wills, but Brie can’t help but fear their love is a side effect of the menace. In order to survive, they must put aside their fears and embrace the gifts they’ve fought so hard to deny.

Would you like a little kiss?

—-

Brie hoped her face didn’t show the sudden and almost unexpected thoughts running through her mind. How would his strong arms feel, pulling her close? Would his lips be as soft and warm as they looked?

She picked up a napkin and fanned her warming cheeks. What was wrong with her? She’d never had thoughts like this about a relative stranger before Ian had walked through the door. Except perhaps for in her dream, or vision, or whatever it had been. Of course, she’d never before had this sense of having known someone she couldn’t possibly know.

It wasn’t in her nature to be that forward but now she wanted to be. She wanted to stand up, straddle his lap, and kiss him hard. The draw was almost more than she could bear.

He leaned in, placed a knuckle beneath her chin, and pulled her mouth up. He rubbed his lips across hers in a gentle caress. For a moment, they shared a breath, in and out. Then he deepened the kiss. His tongue met hers in gentle exploration, and desire made her head reel. Something about him called to her like no man ever had before—a familiarity that made her wrap her arms around his neck and sigh.

He ran his hands up and down her back. The gentle caress lit a fire inside her. A simple kiss shouldn’t have such power.

Available on Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Allromancebooks, etc…

We have a new blogger. Please welcome…


Robin Delany writes historical and contemporary romance as well as paranormal. She will start blogging next week about the journey to publication and the other things that affect her as a new writer in multiple genres. Please welcome her to the blog.

Setting the tone for submission


Say hello again to Karen Frisch, author of What’s in a Name.

Once again I’ve returned to the first 10 pages of my new manuscript. I need to make the best impression possible on the editor who will read it beforehand and review it with me at the upcoming conference I’m attending. I’ll be shaking inside, though I’ll appear confident. The opening needs to be so strong that she’ll want the rest of the story and I can emerge from the appointment without emotional trauma.

I’ve given up counting the number of individual versions I’ve done of the opening paragraph. Because those early sentences are so critical to its success, I fight for every word. Each has to do double duty, setting the emotional tone while introducing the story. It’s the precision of the word choice that defines both character and voice.

All writers are familiar with the process. We put words in, then take them out just as quickly. We revise a sentence to make it match more precisely what’s in our mind, then decide the next day we liked the original better—after we’ve already updated it on our backup flash drive and the original has been deleted. Sound familiar? This self-inflicted torture is part of our writing routine.

The writing process reminds me of the way figure skaters build confidence before a competition. They spend months preparing, practicing, and perfecting their routine. On the day of competition they warm up on the rink, do a few test jumps, and wait by the boards to collect their thoughts before they’re introduced as their turn arrives. They step off carefully on the ice, just as a writer puts words tentatively on a cold screen.

Finding the essence of a character early in the story is a process that goes soul-deep. It’s not for the faint of heart. If I step out of my main character’s perspective, I need to correct it at that point, not avoid it as I’m tempted to do. The process contains more trepidation than writing the later chapters. I probably spend as much time on the first three or so chapters as I do on the rest of the book. They have to be perfect or close to it. It’s the reason why page 1, paragraph 1, line 1 has to be exactly right. It sets the voice and tone and tells me who my heroine is so I can interpret her for the reader. Once I have that voice, it’s so loud and clear it helps me stay on the right path.

In Nathan Bransford’s wonderful article “How to Craft a Great Voice,” he writes, “Your voice is in you. It’s not you per se, but it’s made up of bits and pieces of you. It may be the expression of your sense of humor or your whimsy or your cynicism or frustration…” or more. For some of us, that’s the most frightening part. It’s part of us exposed on the page. It’s up to me to coax my main character’s voice out of her and find out what she wants to say. I’m tempted to say that portraying that voice accurately is my problem, but let’s be positive and say it’s my decision how to choose to interpret her.

Those countless hours we spend on the opening pages are among the most significant in the writing process. When we’re desperate and even the Thesaurus won’t help, the painstaking struggle for the right word can seem endless. There’s no feeling of triumph that compares with finding the right word. Confidence in our decisions speaks louder than words. That’s why we fight so hard to get the opening just right—and it’s what often makes the difference between acceptance and a pass.

Karen Frisch’s historical romance What’s in a Name is currently available from Avalon Books. She has also written a Victorian mystery, Murder Most Civil, and a Regency romance, Lady Delphinia’s Deception. All are available on Amazon, as are her two genealogy books, Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs and Creating Junior Genealogists.

5 great lines – Passion Unleashed


5 Great Lines from Larissa Ione, Passion Unleashed

1

“All I ever had before you was nightmares. But now I dream. Because of you.”

2

“So,uh, where am I, exactly ? And what do you plan on doing with me ?”
“You’re at Underworld General Hospital. As you can probably guess, we specialize in nonhuman medical care. Our location is secret, so don’t ask.”
“UGH ? Your hospital is called ‘ugh’ ? Oh, that’s precious.”

3

“I’ll bet you could make a woman throw out all her toys”

4

“I swear, I’ve never met any demon as annoying as you are.”

“You haven’t met my youngest brother.”

5

“Tayla’s here. And Gem. Luc. Kynan. Reaver. Our other brother, but he’s in chains. He’s also a total dick. You’ll like him.”


Ava Delany
The Fetish Club Series, The Homecoming Series, and The Beginnings Series.
Look for my newest release- A Surprising Day – on Kindle, Allromanceebooks, and many other places where ebooks are sold.

Guest – Karen Frisch


Please welcome back our monthly guest, Karen Frisch.


The biggest challenge for a writer isn’t always the hero or heroine. Sometimes it’s the villain, who can be difficult to disguise. We have to hide him in plain sight, making him part of the action and absorbing him into the story like any other character.

The big problem: getting him to blend in without sticking out like a sore thumb so the reader can point to him and say, “There’s the killer!” Like a hot potato, he is often the character the writer doesn’t want to touch. We’re just as afraid of him as his potential victim is. Even if the main character discovers at the end that he is the character she should have avoided, writers don’t have that option.

Portraying the villain sometimes becomes more of a struggle than the actual writing when the author doesn’t fully understand the character. If an author reacts to the challenge by avoiding the bad guy, leaving him until last, he becomes that much harder to conceal. Since knowing his story allows the writer to get control, it makes sense to develop the story backward and plot the end first. His motivation creates the actions the main character must react to because his is the story that drives the novel.

Years back, when I was working on the story that would become my first published mystery, Gail Eastwood, one of my critique partners at the time, said after finishing the novel, “I never would have guessed the killer—and that’s both good and bad.” Being too subtle is as much a flaw as being too obvious, and it’s up to the author to maintain a delicate balance in selecting how and where to leave clues without being either. We have to wrestle the monster into submission in order to get inside the villain’s head.

In his book How to Write a Damn Good Mystery, James N. Frey describes the murderer as the author of “the plot behind the plot.” In order to know the murderer intimately, Frey recommends keeping a journal in the character’s voice. To make him three-dimensional, the villain must have a selfish interest about which he is passionate. He lives his life with intentions, good or otherwise, just like all characters. In other words, the better we know the devil, the more we can control him.

Psychologists recommend that people learn to face their fears in order to overcome them. A writer’s presentation of the character who is most elusive is among the biggest. Knowing him as well as we know ourselves makes him life-sized once again, bringing him back under our control—right where he belongs.

Karen Frisch’s historical romance What’s in a Name is currently available from Avalon Books. Also available are the Victorian mystery Murder Most Civil and the Regency romance Lady Delphinia’s Deception. She’s also written two genealogy books: Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs and Creating Junior Genealogists, both available from Turner Publishing or on Amazon.

Guest Blog – Jill Stone – He’s called spy, covert operative, secret agent, clock and dagger man and he is one of my favorite heroes.


Please help me welcome back one of our old bloggers, Jillian Stone, author of An Affair with Mr. Kennedy (The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard).

What is it about secret agents? Certainly they’re wicked smart, and who doesn’t find a brilliant mind seductive? Often these men are portrayed as sophisticated smooth operators––capable, cunning and deadly sexy. They are also adventurous heroes who are more than a bit…dangerous. There are so many reasons to be attracted to them, and they are also some of my favorite heroes to write!

I’m blogging today about two of my favorite characters, because I wrote them! First, let me tell you about Zeno Kennedy, the man who puts the dash in the dashing Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series and the hero of AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY. (debut novel releases January 31). Here’s a quickie-quick blurb: Beneath gaslit streets, anarchists with bombs plot a deadly attack on Victorian London. Scotland Yard operative Zeno ‘Zak” Kennedy’s investigation leads him into the arms of free-thinking impressionist painter Cassandra St. Cloud, whose connection to the terrorists catapults their passionate affair into perilous adventure.

My other favorite character is the hero of THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK. Phaeton’s prodigious gifts as a paranormal investigator are as legendary as his skills as a lover, his weakness for wicked women as notorious as his affection for absinthe. But when he’s asked to hunt down a fanged femme fatale who drains her victims of blood, he walks straight into the arms of the most dangerous woman he’s ever known, the very capable cajun beauty, America Jones. This is a super steamy Steampunk mystery romance, set in late Victorian London (releases this April 3rd).

There have been so many wonderful secret agents written over the years, from Jack Bauer (24) to Jason Bourne, from sexy Xander Cage to the sexier (?) Austin Powers! And what about The Avenger’s John Steed and Emma Peel? Or Mr. and Mrs. Smith? And as long as I’m mentioning women, I’d like to do a shout out to the wonderful Le Femme Nikita (foreign film version) as well as Angelina Jolie’s Evelyn Salt.

Any list of secret agents would not be complete without James Bond. Which Bond is your favorite? Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Or the attest modern day Bond played by Daniel Craig? Perhaps the best Holmes of all will always be the original written by Ian Fleming and pictured in the mind’s eye! So the question for the day is: Which Bond is your favorite?

To inspire comments I have several giveaways: One commenter will receive their choice of a signed ARC of either AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY or THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK. In addition, all commenters today will be entered in a special giveaway promotion: Jewelry inspired by the romantic notion of recapturing lost time as the French title ‘Le Temps Perdu’ A Steampunk watch necklace from the Time Travel Collection by Yolanda Pang. Cyber travel to Poetic Designs and see for yourself just how whimsical this watch necklace is Link: http://www.etsy.com/listing/86157293/le-temps-perdu-ii-steampunk-watch

This promotion will be offered over the next month during my blog tour. Each time you visit a different blog and leave a comment your name gets entered again! For a schedule of my interviews and blogs go to contact/press on my website. Good luck everyone!

Jillian Stone

Could the crime of the century lead to the love of a lifetime?
An Affair With Mr. Kennedy
2010 Golden Heart winner for Romantic Suspense
Debut release January 31, 2012 from Pocket Books

Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator
The Seduction of Phaeton Black
Available April 3, 2012 from Kensington Brava

Website: http://jillianstone.com

The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard mix business with pleasure in these Victorian Romantic Suspense novels from Pocket Books: An Affair with Mr. Kennedy, January 31, 2012 • An Intrigue with Detective Lewis, August 28, 2012 • A Private Duel with Agent Gunn, Early Spring 2013 And watch for these wild and sexy Steampunk adventures from Kensington Brava: The Seduction of Phaeton Black, April 3, 2012 • The Moonstone and Miss Jones, Early Spring 2013 • The Miss Education of Doctor Exeter, Fall 2013


Thanks for coming by to visit us here at Let’s Talk Romance. It was great to have you back and we wish you the best of luck.

April Dawn, author of Bound by Love and Crushing Desire.

Guest Post – Karen Frisch – The Defining Moment


Please welcome back Karen Frisch, author of What’s in a Name.


THE DEFINING MOMENT

What makes a professional? Does a writer become a writer, assuming the title and the sense of accomplishment that goes with it, when a first book is completed and she is able to type The End?

Or does she rise to that level when an editor from whom she’s been waiting to hear back for six months finally emails to say she’d like to see the rest of the book?

Is it the point at which an author realizes the last five paragraphs she’s written do nothing to move the story forward, and, instead of saving them for future use, she acknowledges they’re worthless and throws them out? That takes courage.

Many authors remember the thrill of The Call and feel that defines the moment they became a professional or at least officially made it onto the playing field. It might be the day they were able to announce a sale to their writers’ group. Others define success by their own standards, whether it be an aha moment or the decision to stay home and write rather than stick with the part-time job.

We probably all have images of successful writers. They spend most of their day at home. (I have to admit I do know some who are able to do that, and I’m envious.)

But not many, no matter how successful, are willing to say they’ve made it. From posts on Facebook to emails from friends, I hear the same insecurity and uneasiness. In the midst of hope and joy, no one knows whether the next book will sell, if their editor or publisher will survive, or where their books will be sold or in what format.

The one thing we have in common is worry. Writers are more vulnerable than those of many professions. Unlike a business in which a title and a corner office define success, ours is an industry in which there is no true security. What was true yesterday no longer is.

I remember the day I received a reply from an editor to my first nonfiction book proposal. The letter, by snail mail,recommended some additional chapters to my outline and said the publisher would be ready to go to contract when I delivered the completed manuscript. I read it in disbelief. Was this it? No phone call. No list of changes. Just keep going.

As writers, that’s what we do. We keep going. Keep on truckin.’ We need to share the joy and revel in it, because it doesn’t always last. We survive the struggle because we are all in this together. We buy, we read, and we support the endeavors of other writers. We know what their support would mean to us. We do it because we care, because we can’t imagine how awful it would be if no one wanted to read our stories.

What makes it real for you? Do you have tricks for banishing fear? If you have successful habits that make the writing life easier, please feel free to share.

Karen Frisch’s historical romance What’s in a Name was released last month from Avalon Books. Her other books include Murder Most Civil, a Victorian mystery from Mainly Murder Press, and Lady Delphinia’s Deception, a Regency from ImaJinn Books. ImaJinn also published her novella “A Delicate Footing” in the anthology A Regency Yuletide. She’s also written two genealogy books: Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs and Creating Junior Genealogists, both available from Turner Publishing or on Amazon.

Thanks for being here Karen.

—-
April Dawn
Author of Crushing Desire and Bound by Love.

The grand prize winner of the bloghop is…


Congrats to Yadira on winning the Nook color grand prize!

I hope everyone got what they wanted this holiday season (and throughout the year), and I wish everyone a happy new year.