Tag Archives: love

In fiction as in life …?

Thea today, writing from the grandbaby’s house where I’m caretaking him for the next few weeks, and I’m still crazy in love — even after 15 months. Which feeds into the next momentous month in which John and I celebrate our 47th anniversary. It’s kind of staggering to think it’s been that many years. But even more so, how we met, about two years before that, just after he’d just graduated college and we separately both attended to a party at the home of my friend Sharon in Newark, NJ.

I like to think ours was a grand love story, but maybe, because we were an interfaith couple (no small thing back then), it was more about rebellion. Or our just being together and figuring all of it out as we went.

Cut to ten years later. We were living in Brooklyn. I was pregnant out to the there with my eldest son. We were at a performance of Trelawny of the Wells at Lincoln Center. In the break between the first and second act, we were milling in the lobby, and a woman approached me. “Is your name Thea?”

I said yes. She told me her name and asked if I remembered her. I did. She was a friend Sharon’s and we’d hung out several times, no more than that, back in the days after that party at Sharon’s house. But I hadn’t seen her in more than ten years, and I’d not been in contact with Sharon either after John and I married.

She said, “Sharon is dead.”

Last thing I expected to hear. The words exploded like a bomb, chilling me to the bone. Sharon had died of complications of Type 1 diabetes. She couldn’t have been more than 35 years old.

“I thought you should know,” she said And then she was gone, leaving me devastated. And I couldn’t find her in the audience or after, and I never saw her again.

I still get chills thinking about it. How did she recognize me after all that time, AND that pregnant?
How did it happen this one night she and I were separately in the audience and she saw me, she knew me — and felt confident enough that I was who she thought I was to approach me? And how could she just disappear, never to be seen again?

I’ve often thought that incident would make a terrific scene in a book. Except for the fact she vanished. In a book, she’d have to return at some point because otherwise the reader would be questioning where she went and what her purpose was. It’s not enough just to have a character deliver bad news and exit right. There has to be some reason, some driving motivation, everything interconnected, all ends tied up.

Fiction is not life. Life is random. That moment at Lincoln Center was random — but was it? It haunts me even after all these years because it all seemed so coincidental — and yet it wasn’t. Still, I wonder … was she an angel sent perhaps by Sharon to tell me I was being watched over? I only recently even considered that. And if so, what signs have I missed all these years not contemplating that possibility? Or was it just a really intriguing idea to springboard a plot for a novel I have yet to write?

Of course that would be my first thought. Wouldn’t it be yours?

Or is there more to it than that?

Still and all, at this anniversary time of the year, I remember Sharon. I can close my eyes and see her just as she was, a pretty red-headed twenty year old, bedeviled but never beaten down by the disease that would take her life. But back then, at that party that night, without knowing it, by inviting John Devine, she gave me my future and my life.

What do you think? Was it a coincidence? Meant to be? An angel? A figment of my imagination? Have you ever had a moment like that?

Thea Devine is the author of 27 erotic historical and contemporary romances, five of which have just been reissued in Kindle editions. and nearly a dozen novellas. She’s been named a Romance Pioneer by Romantic Times, and is currently working on a new erotic contemporary novel.

The Vampire Secret

Thea Devine today,having just finished Beyond the Night (Pocket Star eBook April 2013), the sequel to The Darkest Heart, and I thought you might enjoy a little insight into how I got the idea for the Darkest Heart.

Actually, I’m Romanian on my father’s side, so you’d think I’d be steeped knee deep in vampire lore.

But in fact, apart from being scared to death on viewing Dracula when I was eight years old, I never gave vampires a half a thought until I was looking for an idea for my thirteenth book. And even then, and in the subsequent vampire book I wrote, the hero was not a vampire.  In Sinful Secrets, the whole English parliament were vampires;  in Forever Kiss, the vampire had a doppelganger who pretended to be him, so that when the vampire finally returned to his stomping grounds, he had to pretend to be the doppelganger pretending to be him.  Believe me, he was royally peeved — for lots of fun-to-write pages.

However, I couldn’t find a way to wrap my head around vampire as romantic hero.  So when I was thinking about my next book, which it was suggested to me should have vampires, I really was at a loss.  I needed an idea and I needed this vampire to be a hero.

And I really needed to figure out some real ways a woman would feel an attraction to a vampire — because all I’m thinking is blood, gore, dessication and rot.  Coffins and fetid grave dirt.  NOT very sexy.

I was in a local store one day, talking about this current project, when the teenaged clerk overheard me say, vampires, and she exclaimed, “Oh, I love vampires.”   I asked her why and she said, because they were sooo Romeo and Juliet.

Right:  yearning for something, and never to have it.  And it all ends in bloody gory death.  Murderous immortality.  Not hardly romantic.  Not quite the jump-start I was looking for.

So I listed all the reasons why a vampire is supposed to be seductive:

He is the love that cannot be

He’s immortal.

He has super-powers

He’s dangerous to love

He’s super sexual

He’s protective (paternal and sexual)

You yearn for what you can’t have

Reckless endangerment:  death is but a kiss away

Still — nothing in that list sent plotlines roaring through my head.  I was discussing it with my husband one night and I read him the list.  Then I asked him why he thought vampires were so seductive.   I mean, there’s nothing like the male perspective, right?

John said, “they’re victims.”  He said, “they have no choice.”

My jaw dropped.  The heavens opened.  Light flooded the earth, angels sang, and everything fell into place.  Of course.  Genius.  But my husband always says genius things just when I need to hear them.

Victim.

A whole other side of the vampire.  Immediately plot questions steam-rolled through my mind.  What would he do, feeling like that?  How could he take anyone else’s life?  How would he live?  Did he want to die?  How would he survive?  What lies would he tell himself?

AND, if he’s a victim, you then have a heroine wanting to somehow help, nurture, make it better, change it.  If you have the love that cannot be, one might feel the call to sacrifice for the other at some point.  And there was the bedrock of the story — vengeance and sacrifice.

So I wrote this as my logline:

He’s been exiled to the dank bloody world of the undead

He lives solely to destroy the one who sired him

He’s been living to die

Until he encounters the one he can’t live without

And eternity is not an option.

And from that one astute observation, I wrote The Darkest Heart, and the sequel, Beyond the Night.

Thank you, John!

What about you?  Has your husband ever contributed something brilliant to your plotting and planning?   Does he have any input at all, ever?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romance.  She just completed Beyond the Night (April 2013, Pocket Star eBook), the sequel to The Darkest Heart.  The reissue of her erotic contemporary romance, His Little Black Book, is available now.

So What’s Your Book About?

Last weekend was the first time I saw any of my extended family since the news I was going to be published came out. I knew in the back of my mind they would be curious about it. But I pushed those thoughts away hoping they would all enjoy the free alcohol too much to ask. I was wrong.

I’m not one to talk about my writing to people who aren’t writers. Because, frankly, they just don’t get it. In fact I was hesitant to start calling myself a writer unitl recently.Different people have different definitions of what WRITER means. For me it means being able to show what’ve I got to the world and get paid for it. But I digress. When my mother’s friend asked me about my road to publication I was fine. It was a fairly easy question to answer. Query letter→ Agent→ Contract. But then came the dreaded question….

What’s your book about? I’ve never been able to answer this question smoothly. When my father asked I actually said I DON’T KNOW.

“What do you mean you don’t know? You wrote it. Didn’t you?”

Of course I had written the book. It is something I labored over for five months. The characters are people I grew to love. So why couldn’t I share their story?

I’ve never pitched a book before even though I have lorded over the pitch sessions for two years at my local conference. I’m still amazed at how people do it. A few minutes to condense months of hard work into a few lines. I’m not suggesting that other people shouldn’t do if they find the thought terrifying. They should go for it. I just knew that I couldn’t. If I couldn’t eloquently tell my mother what it was about then I had no hope with an agent or editor. And thankfully I didn’t have to.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever get out pitching my book. The publishing process is full of pitches. Most importantly to the reader. I know I have to get better at this. My family party was my first chance. It was horribly pathetic. My first attempt went something like this.

“Um… It’s about a lawyer who um, quits her jobs, dumps her boyfriend and opens up a boutique and starts a blog.”

GAG! Even I wouldn’t buy that book. And while that generally is what the book is about there is so much more to it. It’s about body image. And the complicated relationships between sisters. It’s about being adopted and feeling like an outsider. It’s about self-worth and confidence and friendship and trust. And about learning to love yourself while falling in love. Throw in a father with Asperger’s and a hippie feminist man hating mother and a hunky cop and you’ve got yourself a book. Oh and did I mention it was funny. Or at least I think so. And it’s called FAT BOTTOM GIRL. At least for now. The publisher might want to change it.

Can you slap that on the back of a book? Probably not. But it’s the best I can do for now. I’m working on it. I promise.

And if anybody is remotely interested here are the first few lines from the book.

Big Fat Fattie and Other Words for Fat

Plus Sized

Zaftig

Big

Overweight

Plump

Chubby

Portly

Fleshy

Curvy

Chunky

Heavy

Rubenesque

 

“Ellison? Is that you, honey?”

 Not today. Please not today. Ellis Garret shut her eyes and prayed hard as she stood in line at Hot Lava Java. Really, really hard. Maybe if she appeased the right god she would be spared the torture that was Mrs. Agatha Toomey.

Jesus? Buddha? Zeus? 

“Ellison? Yoo hoo!”

Are you there God? It’s me, Ellis. Can’t a girl get a miracle here?

“Ellis!”

Apparently not.

All she really wanted was a cookie and not just any cookie, but one of those super big Black and White cookies with the yummy icing and the oh-so-soft cake-like bottom. She knew she wasn’t supposed to be eating delicious giant cookies. It was only Tuesday. Cookies—any and all junk food were off-limits today. She was supposed to be good on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and everyday that didn’t start with a Sat or a Sun.  Thou shall not eat high-calorie snacks on weekdays.   

“Yes, Mrs. Toomey. It is me,” Ellis said, plastering a smile on her face that she hoped looked genuine. She turned to face the annoyingly slender woman holding a cup of green tea. Is that you? Mrs. Toomey asked the question as if she didn’t know. Well, duh. Ellis wasn’t one of those girls who was easy to miss.

 “I’m a little surprised to see you. What are you doing here?” Mrs. Toomey looked Ellis up and down with her judgmental eyes, seeming to know already why Ellis was there. Fat girls shouldn’t eat cookies.

Today I’m seeking advice. Help me to understand how to pitch my book. How to make it sound so great that people can’t help but to buy it. How do you do it? Like pitching? Hate pitching? Avoid it like the plague? Any and all comments are welcome.

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Happy Friday! Casey Wyatt here!

Quick! Romance writers – how would you finish this sentence:

My hero or heroine’s goal is to_____________ ?

Anyone?

If you said, “To fall in love”. <buzz>. No gold star! At least not yet.

I’m not a big fan of saying you should do this or that, but I’m going to make an exception. Your hero/heroine’s goal should not be to fall in love. No worries, I’ll explain.

A goal, by its nature, is selfish. It’s something the protagonist wants more than anything else. It’s their hearts deepest desire, the thing they want more than anything in the world.

But it’s a romance novel. Isn’t that what the reader wants? For them to fall in love?

Absolutely. But falling in love is the outcome of other events – a by-product.

The hero or heroine should have their own unique inner life – their own, goal, motivation and conflict. And to add to that, they should have an inner and external version of each!

The inner goal is that selfish heart’s desire I mentioned earlier. The external goal is the more tangible, save the world type stuff.

Before I begin each book, I determine the GMC for my heroine, hero, and depending on the story, the antagonist.

I ask myself the following questions:

  • What does she/he want? (Goal)
  • What’s driving her/him to achieve said goal? (Motivation)
  • What’s holding her/him back? (Conflict)

For example, my worksheet from The Undead Space Initiative:

Character: Cherry Cordial

External Goal: stay alive while proving she didn’t kill the Queen and establishing a Martian colony.

External Motivation: being framed for a murder she didn’t commit and survival

External Conflict: every vampire on earth is out to get her/Martian environment

Internal Goal: Do something right for a change/figure out what she really wants in her life.

Internal Motivation: Wants to prove to herself that she’s more than a stripper

Internal Conflict: past failures/mistakes are holding her back – fear she’s not good enough.

I did the same thing for Ian, (the hero) and Thalia (the antagonist). Notice, there is no mention of falling in love anywhere in here. Does this mean there will be no romance? That Cherry and Ian won’t fall in love?

Of course it doesn’t mean that. But what it does mean is that you must use the GMC to guide their thoughts, actions, and desires throughout the story. How they handle a given situation depends on their personality and what they want out of life (GMC). The obstacles you throw their way should, in the end ,ultimately grow them as a person so they can finally get that brass ring.

 And non-romance writers – a clear GMC is a must for you too!

If you find you’ve hit a wall with your story, it could be because you don’t have a handle on what their true desires are. If you aren’t clear, then the reader won’t be either.

What’s love got to do with a romance novel? Everything. Just remember, to know your goal, be clear, and help your character’s achieve them through thoughtful plotting.

Scribes fans – here’s my challenge to you – go back to your story and see if you can answer the questions above. Share your results with us, then give yourself a gold star!

And if you have time, stop by my blog where I discuss When Good Cookies Go Bad

My Life Next Door — Interview with Huntley Fitzpatrick

Welcome, all! Suze here, wishing you a lovely day. If you love Secrets as much as the Scribes do, then you’ll want to check back on July 4th when we’ll reveal a wonderful one!

I am thrilled to introduce you to  author Huntley Fitzpatrick, whose debut book, My Life Next Door, just released. Let’s give a big ole Scribes welcome to Huntley!

How do you battle the doubt monster? Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling that your prose is terrible, your plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

You accept that the doubt monster lives in your house and will occasionally wander into your living room and take up all the space. You try to ignore him the way you would an annoying, too aggressive roommate. If necessary, you placate him with chocolate.

Have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you? Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before?

I’m hoping to do that every time, in my own (maybe limited) way. I love paranormal, and I’ve tried to write it, but it doesn’t flow the way contemporary does for me. It feels forced. I admire it, I just can’t do it.

What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell? What is holding you back?

I’d love to do Tim’s story (minor character from MY LIFE NEXT DOOR). We’ll see if anyone wants that.

I’d be surprised if someone didn’t want it, Huntley! What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

Besides that it exists? Getting an agent, getting a publisher….nothing about it isn’t a surprise.

What would you do or be if you weren’t a writer?

I love to cook, and I catered for a long time. I might go back to that. Or editing, my second favorite job ever. The next best thing to writing is reading other writers and finding what they do well.

We’ll have to have you back and force you to give us a recipe! Or edit a manuscript for us 🙂 They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere. What is yours? What is it about? What makes it terrible? Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

Oh, my first book. Heavily autobiographical (way more so than any fiction should be). The germ of the story is great, but when I wrote it, I didn’t know how to get any literary distance. Every once and I while I remember that story and think “I could do it so much better now!”

We know you could, Huntley! Can’t wait to see more from you. Thanks for visiting with us today. You can connect with Huntley at her website (click here), or on Facebook (click here), or on Twitter (click here).

Take it away, readers. Any questions or comments for Huntley?