Tag Archives: Karenna Colcroft

My New Release!

First of all, I apologize for missing my spot last week. It was my birthday, I turned 40, and my brain kinda turned to mush for a day or so.

This week, I’m thrilled to announce the release of my new novel Eternal Love, which has just become available from Pink Petal Books. For over 900 years, immortal Rhys Trevellian has been in love with the same soul, which once resided in the body of his childhood love Gwen. In seven subsequent lifetimes, she’s returned to Rhys’s life, only to be murdered by fanatic immortals who want to prevent Rhys from transmuting Gwen to immortality. Now, he has found her yet again, living in a small Maine town and hiding from her abusive ex-fiance. As Gwen Davies learns to trust Rhys and accept the truth about him and her previous lives with him, the two must run to hide from the fanatics and from the immortal authorities, who seek to execute Rhys for murder.

A short excerpt: 
He deserved happiness now. They both did. If only he could persuade her to accompany him out of town before the others arrived to separate them once again.

Thunder boomed again, and a flash of lightning illuminated the room. Control yourself. The stern thought pulled Rhys back to his reason for following Gwen when she’d run from him. If he became too intense about convincing her of the truth, she would only run again.

He wanted her to run with him, not from him. He settled on the worn couch to wait for her to return.

After a few minutes, with damp, tousled hair and wearing an oversized T-shirt and baggy shorts, Gwen opened the bedroom door. She hesitated a long moment before she quietly said, “Please excuse the way I’m dressed. I want to be comfortable.”

“It’s fine,” he assured her. He patted the cushion beside him. Instead of approaching the couch, she went to the picture window which overlooked the lake and watched the storm.

Rhys hesitated. “About the kiss—”

 “I don’t want to talk about it. You don’t understand what it meant.” She drew the curtain across the window, keeping her back to him. “You didn’t have to come out in this just to bring me the book. It isn’t that important.”

“I gave it to you as a gift, and that made it important to me,” Rhys said firmly. “The storm doesn’t concern me. And you know the book isn’t the only reason I’m here.”

She peeked through the curtain. “Yeah. You’re only staying till the storm’s over, though.”

He inclined his head. “Thank you.” It went against his better judgment to stay alone with her too long. The desire the kiss had kindled burned at full flame at the sight of her, and he didn’t know how long he could resist it. With time, he would control his lust for her. Right now, his body remembered hers against it when they kissed and wanted more. His heart begged him to make love to her so she would be transmuted and would remain with him forever.

With Gwen, centuries of learned self-control had flown straight out the window. Of course, he would never do anything against her will. However, if they remained here in this cottage much longer, his wanting would change to persuading and seducing.

They had no time for lovemaking now, as much as he wished it. He didn’t know how much longer they had before the Purists arrived.

The lights flickered and went out. Almost immediately a spark appeared, and Gwen lit the candles on the mantel. “I expected that,” she explained. “My uncle told me the power here goes out with just a breath of wind.” She paused, and finally turned to look at him, though her eyes didn’t meet his. “I…I’m glad you’re here. I think this storm would scare me if I was alone.”

The admission touched him. He could imagine how hard she found it to admit to needing someone. He kept his tone light as he replied, “Then I’m glad I came. I don’t scare you?”

“Something about you does,” she admitted. “I don’t think you’d hurt me, though. That isn’t what scares me about you.”

“I’d never hurt you,” he vowed. He almost blurted out everything then, but restrained himself. As much as time allowed, he had to move slowly with her so he didn’t frighten her away again.

“Um, do you want anything to drink or eat?” she asked nervously. “I bought some tea yesterday.”

“Nothing, thank you.” He studied her as he’d done so many times in the café, this time with no attempt to hide his gaze. His Gwen. If only he could find the right words to tell her.

To change the subject, he nodded toward the vase. “That’s very attractive.”

“It’s an heirloom.” Gwen went over and touched the vase. “My grandmother passed it on to me. Didn’t that piss off my mother—she’d wanted it for herself. Gran said her grandmother gave it to her and told her it’s something like four hundred years old. I think her grandfather bought it at some shop in England.” She turned back to him and softly added, “It’s about the only thing of mine that Cole didn’t destroy.”

“It’s beautiful.” He met her eyes. “As are you.”

“Don’t start, please.” She returned to the window and pulled the curtain aside to peek out. “Look at those trees. We’ll lose some of them by morning, I’m sure.”

A sudden flash came to Rhys’s mind. “Get away!” he shouted.

Startled, she jumped back from the window. “What—”

Before she could finish the question, a thick branch punctured the window, impaling the air where she had stood an instant before. Glass flew. If she had remained, it would have gashed her badly. Flecks of blood appeared on her arms and legs and spotted the front of her gown. She stood for a moment, stunned, and then took a step forward.


Writer’s Block

For the second week in a row, I’m late submitting my post. Sorry, April!

I don’t have an excuse, though I could say the cat ate my computer. Seriously, if you knew my cat, you wouldn’t find that all that outrageous. Having taught in public schools for over 15 years, I’ve heard pretty much every excuse that exists. So I won’t burden you with any. I will, however, explain.

Last week, I had a child home from school with bronchitis. Pretty scary for a while; she had such a bad cough she could barely breathe. That kind of stymied my creativity. My energy and thoughts focused more on taking care of her and wishing her health than on writing a blog post, or even writing much of anything, to be honest.

She’s better this week. So the only explanation I have now is that I just plain didn’t know what to write!

It happens to the best authors. Every once in a while, the words just plain dry up. Your brain throws a nice, tall concrete wall up in front of you, and nothing even remotely creative makes it through. Sometimes it happens when you’re just starting a new story. That first sentence is always a doozy. Staring at the blank paper or computer monitor… *shudder*.

Sometimes it hits you in the middle of a story. You’ve gotten off to a good start, the characters are on stage and doing what you want them to do, and all of a sudden, WHAM! You can’t figure out what you want them to do next. They’re left standing there blinking at you in confusion as you try to get through that concrete wall.

(And no, I don’t actually see my characters blinking at me. At least, not in the same room…)

The worst time writer’s block can hit, and the time when it usually strikes me, is after all of the above. I got off to a great start. The middle of the story flowed so quickly my typing fingers could barely keep up. The climax (figurative or literal, depending on what kind of story it is) has occurred.

And I have no idea how to end the blasted thing. That concrete wall just sits there waiting for me at the end of the story, and I have to work around it till I’m actually able to finish.

Then there are times when that wall waits for the author to have a commitment. A guest blog, an interview, or a regularly scheduled blog post. And then it strikes, leaving you completely clueless as to how to fill that commitment.

Which is what happened to me last week and this week. Fortunately, the wall seems to have gone on vacation temporarily, maybe to the Bahamas or someplace warmer. So I’ve finished this post, and hopefully from now on will be more on top of things.

Does anyone have a wrecking ball, though, just in case that wall comes back?

Do Your Research

As a romance author, one of the things I’ve found it most difficult to deal with is the fact that I’m supposed to do research. What should I do, watch people kiss and, er, other things?

Not exactly. The romance part of romance writing is usually fairly self-explanatory. It’s all the other details that sometimes need a little more work than just the author’s assumption that they know what they’re talking about. Although if I were to write an M/M romance or a BDSM, I would have to do some research even into the romance parts, because those aren’t things with which I’m exactly familiar.

The point is, if an author is going to write something, they owe it to themselves and their readers to get it right. Whether it’s a contemporary that takes place in a location the author is unfamiliar with, a historical, or a science fiction story with the emphasis on science, the author needs to know what they’re talking about. Some things might make it past the editors and readers. Others won’t.

I touched on this subject a couple weeks ago when I blogged about authors needing to make sure they use names for their characters that are accurate for the characters’ ethnicities and the time and location in which the story takes place. Names aren’t the only thing that needs to be correct in a story, however. For example, I recently wrote a contemporary paranormal in which the good guys had a private jet. On that jet, in the version of the manuscript which I submitted, they cooked scrambled eggs, and the plane had a bedroom. I received a “revise and resubmit” on that manuscript, and one of the notes the editor made asked that I research private jets to find out whether any of them actually have bedrooms and whether it’s possible to cook scrambled eggs on a plane.

I could have refused. It’s fiction, after all. Paranormal fiction, even. If I want to have a plane with a bedroom, why can’t I? Simple answer: Because someone will know better.

Obviously not everyone is an expert in everything. A lack of research won’t be noticeable to most readers, depending on what error that lack causes. The problem comes when a reader who actually does know something reads the book, and questions what they’ve read.

An editor’s job is to make sure the book is ready for the general public. That includes ensuring that the author has done their research. If a historical novel has one character calling another one “Dude,” it’s a pretty safe bet that the author didn’t look up the time period in which they set their story. Even little things like slang or clothing can trip someone up while they’re writing.

The internet has made research much easier than it used to be. Search engines can steer an author to the information they need, or at the very least to books that contain that information. Some authors prefer not to do any research (I have to admit, I fall into that group). The problem is that if no research is done, the potential for obvious mistakes increases. And so does the potential for the story to be rejected.

Research can be time-consuming. It takes time away from the actual writing. But it’s vital for a well-written, accurate story. Putting in that work will pay off in the long run.
Karenna Colcroft

Pleased to Meet You

No, I’m not addressing the readers of this blog, though of course I’d be pleased to meet any of you.

I’m talking about how characters meet. That first, “Oh, could this be the one?” meeting. Or, the first, “Oh, good grief, what an arrogant cretin” meeting, depending on the mood of the author and the tone of the story.

Romance stories pretty much always have happily ever after, or at least happily for now, endings. That’s one of the requirements. Without that kind of ending, one can reasonably say it isn’t a romance. It might be a romantic story, like Casablanca, which obviously didn’t have a happily ever after ending for the hero, but it isn’t a *romance* story.

However, to reach that happy ending, the characters first have to meet. Sometimes figuring out how they do that is the hardest part of writing a romance story. The meeting has to be believable, as do the characters’ reactions to each other. Love at first sight might happen in real life, but in a story it might seem unrealistic. If it’s well-written and there are reasons given for it, the author might get away from it. It’s a hard sell, though.

As a side note, love at first sight really does happen, albeit rarely. I knew the moment I set eyes on my fiance, before he even introduced himself, that he was “the one,” and he says he felt the same about me. We’ve been together since the night we met, and are getting married in April.

Back on topic, even though there are myriad ways of meeting people in real life, it isn’t always easy to think of a realistic, logical way for characters to meet. When I wrote my novella Deep Down, I spent at least a week trying to figure out how to bring Tanner and Courtney together. Did they meet at work? At a bar? I finally settled on having them meet in the subway station where Tanner plays his guitar, and the catalyst for the meeting is an attempted mugging. Realistic? Well, muggings do happen. It worked for the story, in any case.

To be honest, most of my romance stories begin with the characters already knowing each other. In a couple of them, the hero and heroine are a committed couple already, and the romance comes from them trying to spice things up or one of them doing something kind for the other one. In a couple other stories, the hero and heroine are friends who become lovers. In both cases, I neatly avoid the whole “How do they meet?” question.

Sometimes, though, the meeting is an important part of the story. The initial spark which flies between the characters, signaling that something’s going to happen between them, even if at first that spark is negative. As the characters get to know one another, so does the reader, which increases the connection the reader feels with the characters and the story. If the introduction is written well, the reader cares about whether the characters end up together, and how, and why. If the introduction is flat or unbelievable, though, the reader may not be quite as interested.

When I do write a story that begins with the characters’ first meeting, I try to have that meeting occur in a setting that’s at least a little unusual. A subway station; a cafe where an immortal recognizes the soul of his lost love in a newly hired waitress; at a school playground while spying on an assignment from one’s employer. While I’m sure a lot of relationships in real life start at work or at a bar or online, I like to think a little bit outside the box in how my characters meet. Especially since I’m sure plenty of other authors have their characters meeting in those settings, and I want to make sure I’m not repeating something someone else might have written better.

Right now, I’m off to figure out how the characters in my next novella meet. I know who they are and why they end up together, but they haven’t introduced themselves to each other yet. I wonder where that will happen?

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Anyone who’s ever read Romeo and Juliet is familiar with that phrase. Actually, probably a lot of people who’ve never read that play (wait… is there anyone who’s never read or at least seen it?) has probably heard that phrase once or twice. It’s pretty common. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Maybe so, but romance characters aren’t flowers, and names aren’t interchangeable. Could you imagine reading a romance novel in which the heroine’s name was Mehitabel? Or with a hero named Atilla?

Almost definitely not. At least, not in a contemporary novel. Okay, maybe not in any kind of novel for Atilla, given how The Hun kind of ruined that name for all future generations. There are some names that probably shouldn’t ever be used at all. However, there are also names which, while they probably wouldn’t be used nowadays, might be perfectly proper for a Regency, or a historical set in the nineteenth century, or something set in the Middle Ages.

I have a really hard time thinking of names for my characters. Even though the characters themselves often come to me fully formed, with their own unique personalities, experiences, and sometimes wiseass comments, they don’t always show up with names. I think they know I have trouble thinking of what to call them, so they decide to torture me by making me work harder. I’ve gotten them nailed, though; I have a list of names copied from a couple of baby name websites hung on the wall beside my computer. (Along with about two dozen other things… you can’t even see the wallpaper above my desk anymore.)

I write contemporary romance. Sometimes with a bit of paranormal thrown in, but always contemporary. I confess to being too lazy to do the research a historical would require, and high fantasy with the whole create-an-entire-world thing makes my head ache. You might think with contemporary, the names wouldn’t be so difficult.

Wrong. It’s 2010. If I consider most of my characters to be in their early to mid-30s, which I do, then they were, in theory, born between 1975 and 1980 or so. Some of the really, really popular names nowadays weren’t as likely to be given to a child back then. Just as an example, how many baby girls do you think were named Madison before Splash came out in the mid-80s? And now just among my daughters’ friends there are three Madisons. In a small town.

Mehitabel might be a funny-sounding name now. It probably isn’t really much of a heroine’s name, to be honest. However, my great-grandmother, in the 1910’s, had a best friend named Mehitabel. They called her “Bel” for short. Names that were common, or at least not unusual, a hundred years ago may not be used at all now. Or may put people in mind of their great-grandparents. In my contemporaries, I wouldn’t be likely to name characters Ralph and Lucille, for example. However, if I was writing a story set in the early 1900s, knowing that those were the names of my great-grandparents who were both born in 1900, the names might work perfectly.

As a writer, accuracy is important. Some writers choose the names that sound good to them; some choose names that sound like they belong in soap operas. (Sorry, but the names I’ve heard in soaps just sound over the top to me.) Unfortunately, those names aren’t always accurate for the time period they’re writing about, or the ethnicity of the characters, or, on occasion, just plain don’t suit the characters’ personality. The names may not be hero/heroine kinds of names.

Writing does involve work. Even in my contemporaries, I have to do some research, though not as much as if I wrote historicals. One of the things often overlooked, including by me, is whether the names that are chosen for all of the characters are the right names for the era, the background, and the types of characters. However, sometimes that’s the most important part.

A rose by any other name may smell as sweet. But a hero or heroine by the wrong name may turn people off from reading your stories.

Karenna Colcroft

Clean Up, Aisle 7

When was the last time you read a romance story in which the partners debated who had to sleep in the wet spot? (Okay, if you’ve read Lex Valentine’s Fire Season, you’ve read a scene like that, but otherwise?) How about waking up to morning breath? Or any one of the myriad other things that happen before, during, or after sex?

Let’s face it, in real life, sex is messy. Bodily fluids abound, and they don’t always stay where we want them. When people sleep together in the literal sense and wake up next to each other in the morning, morning breath happens. So do other funny smells, sometimes, depending whether they showered before falling asleep. And if they didn’t, they’d best not be attempting oral sex the moment they wake up. Our bodies occasionally make strange noises, and sometimes things don’t line up the way they’re supposed to. Those positions that look so good in movies or sound so good in books don’t always work out that way in reality.

People lose their balance. Uncontrollable laughter happens. Men lose their erection (sometimes because of the uncontrollable laughter). Women suddenly have to pee in the middle of the action.

Yep, in reality sex definitely doesn’t always go smoothly. Sometimes that’s part of the enjoyment, though. If you can look someone in the eye and say, “It’s okay, I’m not mad” after they’ve bent your cock the wrong way while you attempted anal sex with them, you know there’s more between you than just sex. If you and your partner can laugh at yourselves after the chair you’re trying to sex each other on falls apart, you know you’re in sync. When your partner waits patiently while the Anal Eze that’s numbed your cock wears off, you know something will happen worth waiting for. And when you look at each other’s bodies and see past all the flaws, that’s love.

So how come there aren’t more romance novels that include the reality? Okay, I get that romance is supposed to be, at least in part, a fantasy. In fantasy, every position works perfectly, no one’s cock gets bent the wrong way, and there is no wet spot or morning breath. Everyone is gorgeous, with the women curving only in the “right” places and the men being tall and muscular. Every woman comes many times, and every man is a perma-hard stud. I can see where that would appeal to readers, who want to escape reality by reading these novels.

Why not write about characters cleaning up? One of the best scenes I’ve written (in my own admittedly biased opinion, and in an as-yet uncontracted novel) involves the hero and heroine showering together after sex. She’s used to taking care of herself, and is still learning to trust him. To her surprise, he shampoos her hair for her. A tender, loving moment grown from a desire to make sure there’s no wet spot and they don’t smell funny in the morning. Why not have characters share space at the bathroom sink to brush their teeth before going for another round in the morning? Or, as Lex Valentine did in the aforementioned Fire Season, have the characters swallow fireballs to cleanse their breath. Dragon shifters apparently don’t need toothpaste.

To me, laughing over a broken chair is every bit as romantic as being given multiple orgasms. Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t always want to read about perfect sex. It’s the imperfections that make it fun. I definitely don’t write perfect sex. I confess to writing multiple orgasms at times. I’ve also written position failure, planning to buy butt plugs online, and asking whether one’s penis matches a vibrator, all in my novella Beginner’s Luck. I want to read and write about characters I can relate to and care about. To me, having bits and pieces of realistic sex, with all its mess and noises and equipment failures, with the bodies that aren’t perfectly firm and taut and may have hair in unexpected places, gives the characters added depth. And that makes me want to know more about them.

Karenna Colcroft

The Many Ways to Say…

Yeah, you know the rest. This is, after all, a romance blog, so of course I’m talking about how people can say “I love you.”

Those three little words are just one among many ways that people let each other know how they feel. Hugs, kisses, cuddles… all ways to demonstrate that emotion. In my life, my fiance lets me know that he loves me by giving me a little smile and an almost imperceptible wink when he looks at me. Of course he also uses words. Those words aren’t always what one might expect, though. One of the most loving things he’s ever said to me was, “If you try to give up writing because you don’t think you make enough money at it, I’ll break your car’s engine so you have to stay home and write.” Said with a grin so I’d know the threat wasn’t serious, but the sentiment behind it definitely was. He wants me to be happy, and if writing makes me happy he’ll do everything in his power to support me in it. That’s love.

In writing, it’s important to remember that saying “I love you” doesn’t always mean actually saying it. During revisions of one of my novellas, the publisher noted that the characters said those three words to each other way too often. I don’t remember the exact count now, but I think it worked out to at least once every other page. She asked if they really needed to say it that often, pointing to the repetitiveness as a reason to eliminate most of the uses. She was right. People don’t usually say “I love you” to each other three times in a five-minute conversation.

Dialogue, of course, isn’t the only way to show what’s going on in a story. One of the first things we’re taught as writers is how to show, not tell, and that means using the characters’ actions, facial expressions, and body language as well as dialogue to let the reader know how the characters feel and what’s going on around them. A little wink, a gentle hug, a feeling of warmth or protectiveness are all ways that an author can show that one character loves another. Grander actions demonstrate that love as well. For example, in a short story of mine, the hero shows his wife how much he loves her by buying her a “little black dress” after she’s had surgery that left her feeling like less of a woman. He wants her to know that he still finds her beautiful.

How many ways can an author show that their characters love each other? I wouldn’t count the ways, because there are as many as there are authors and characters.

Karenna Colcroft

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Or… how do you mend a broken heart?

There are a lot of songs about breaking up. Nearly as many as there are about falling in love. Some break ups are easy to deal with. Others hurt so much you think you’ll never get over it.

You’re probably wondering what on earth I’m doing talking about break-ups on a romance blog. Believe it or not, it does make sense. Because sometimes what helps us get over a break up is finding someone new. Not right away, of course. It does take time to heal, especially if the break up was especially nasty or came after a long relationship. Sooner or later, though, you have to try again.

I’ve heard the saying many times that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince. Or princess, as the case may be. There are people who are fortunate enough to find their true match the first time out. Most of us have heard about people who married their high school, or even junior high or elementary school, sweetheart and decades later are as happy as they’ve ever been. For most of us, it just doesn’t work that way.

Again you ask, what does this have to do with romance? Well, what’s romance? Isn’t it about that first blush of meeting someone new, finding out how compatible you are? Feeling that rush of warmth that flows through you when you look into his or her eyes. Wanting to be with them all the time.

So you’ve dated someone for months. Maybe even years. Lived together, talked about marriage. And then all of a sudden, it’s over. Maybe you had a fight. Maybe you just grew apart. All you know is, part of your heart has just been ripped out and you’re never going to let anyone that close to you again.

Then one day, you meet someone. A spark is struck. You want to see them again, even though you’re still hurting from that break up. Whenever you’re near them, this weird feeling fills you. It might be happiness. Or love, except you’ve decided you’re done with that.

At first, you try to keep that person at arm’s length. If you let them too close, they might hurt you. Been there, done that, don’t want the shirt. No matter how hard you try, though, you can’t help letting them into your life. And into the heart you’d slammed shut.

And that’s what breaking up has to do with romance. After a break up, you might close your heart and think it’s forever, but someday you do find someone worth opening up for again. Maybe someone who’s even better for you than the one you ended things with. Someone you can love.

And that’s what romance is all about.

Karenna Colcroft

A History has a new and improved look!

Come by and check out our wonderful new site look, designed by our very own Shiela Stewart.
Thank you Shiela for your time and effort in making our site beautiful.
Please comment and tell us what you think of the look of our site.

Tomorrow is the big day!

A History of Romance is open to visitors tomorrow. Please come by and see what we have in store for you. Be sure to check out the contest, and the new blogs. Have fun looking around the site.
April Dawn

A History would like to introduce Karenna Colcroft

Karenna Colcroft has written stories since age five. In 2006, she began writing erotic romance in answer to a challenge from a friend. Since then, she has written over a hundred short stories. In 2009, she began her publishing journey, and as of the beginning of 2010, has three e-book releases and two more releasing in January. Karenna lives in New England with her fiance, two daughters, two cats, and a fish.

Check out her website.