Samantha's Blog

The Scrooge of Holiday Romance

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café, but it’s still true.

I’m the Scrooge of holiday romance, so this month’s theme presented a bit of a problem for me. I don’t read holiday romance. I don’t watch holiday romance movies. And I’ll do anything to avoid writing one. If I read a book that happens to have a Christmas celebration in it, I scan that part of the book. Don’t ask me why. I like holidays. I celebrate them. And of course, I love romance. But a combination of the two? It does nothing for me. I’ve never been tempted to read (or watch) one, even if it’s written by an author I love. Weird, huh?

Even weirder, my aversion to holiday romance doesn’t extend to other genres with a holiday theme. I like dysfunctional family holiday movies, probably because they make me feel better about my own family. I enjoy holiday action adventure movies (think Die Hard). Holiday comedies like The Santa Claus tickle my funny bone. A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life are two of my favorite movies. See? Not one romance in the list. Hmm. Interesting. There’s not a single holiday read on the list, romance or otherwise.

It’s at this point that I’d normally ask for a recommendation. A holiday romance read that’s stuck with you, one you loved. But not this time. I won’t waste your time.

Oh, well. Just call me Scrooge.

 

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Katie Lane: Cowboys, Billionaires & Funny

In the summer of 2011, I read a feature story in the local paper about debut romance author Katie Lane. Since the book editor for the paper wasn’t a fan of romance, I was intrigued. Sooo, I one-clicked Going Cowboy Crazy. By the end of page one, I was Katie’s biggest fan. Her combination of humor, heartache, and sexy keeps me up all night! Yes, she’s one of those authors.

You’ve said you were at the point of giving up on your dreams of publication when you received the call. Can you tell us about that?

I don’t know if any writer ever truly gives up on their dreams of publication. But there was a point when I had decided to put my dreams on hold. My husband had been carrying the financial burden, and it was time for me to get a real job that paid me money. So that night, I said a prayer of thanks to God for giving me the opportunity to pursue my writing dream, and the next day, I planned to go job hunting. But before I could, the phone rang and I was offered a deal. Isn’t life wonderfully crazy like that? You can imagine the whooping and celebrating that went on.

That first book, Going Cowboy Crazy, put you on the bestseller lists. Your humor made me a Katie Lane addict. Where does the funny come from? Have you considered doing standup?

Going Cowboy Crazy cover<happy blushes> Thank you so much. My mother was the funniest person in the world—Lucille Ball funny. She could crack me up with just one kooky look. I try to channel her when I’m writing humorous stories. And no, I don’t think I could do standup comedy. I would get too hurt if people didn’t laugh at my jokes. I much prefer to be funny in my books, then if I bomb with the reader, I never know. And speaking of my Deep in the Heart of Texas series, I have a new story about the crazy town coming out June 1st. My Big Fat Texas Wedding! Here’s a quick sneak peek:

Everything’s Bigger in Texas . . .

Super Bowl Champ, Austin Reeves rolls into his hometown of Bramble expecting a big ol’ hero’s welcome. Instead, he gets the big ol’ cold shoulder from a bunch of pissed off Texans. Completely baffled, he turns to the only person willing to talk to him—the shy girl he knew in high school. But that shy girl has become a hot woman with a fetish for riding crops . . . and soon, Austin will be begging for a long, hard ride.

Mia Cates is ready to get over her crush on Austin—especially when he’s about to tie the knot with another woman. But when he struts back into town with his lazy smile, she’ll find herself playing a game of touch football that could lead to a broken heart . . . unless, she can get up the courage to lay claim to her star quarterback and have her own Big Fat Texas Wedding.

You seem to be a natural born storyteller, on paper and in real life. Seriously, I could listen to your stories forever. Could you tell us about the first story you wrote in elementary school and where the heck you got the idea for it?

My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Hart, wanted the entire class to write a story from an inanimate object’s point of view. She gave us the object she wanted us to write about, and I got a woman’s skirt. I just started writing, and the story of a skinny woman who buys a big skirt came together. When I read the story aloud and came to the part where the skirt falls off and the woman shows her underwear, the entire class laughed and I was hooked on writing.

Tell us about your new series, the Overnight Billionaire. Where did you dream up the idea of joining those delicious men with the lingerie company, French Kiss?

Most of my ideas for books start with a question.  For the Overnight Billionaire series, the question came after my daughter and I had just watched an episode of Duck Dynasty. Jokingly, she said, “What about writing your new series about the Duck guys?” Something clicked in my head. What if three southern, hillbilly brothers inherited a lingerie company like Victoria Secrets? The rest is history.

One last question. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve done for research?

I don’t know about unusual, but the funniest thing I did for research was go to this country bar in Odessa, Texas. The owner came out, and when she found out I was writing a romance book, she sat down and told me the naughtiest stories about the bar patrons.  Of course, I would never write about real people. <clears throat>  But it was so much fun sitting there and getting to listen. I discovered that people love to tell their stories.

Thank you, Katie!

~  ~  ~

A Billionaire After Dark 

With endless wealth comes irresistible temptation . . .

KatieLaneCover01It’s an undisputed fact that Nash Beaumont is the hottest of the Beaumont brothers. His slow, sensual smile charms every French Kiss employee-and tempts every woman to buy the company’s lingerie. But beneath Nash’s raw charisma is a dark, kinky side that he struggles to control . . . a side that may be exposed by one lovely-and unexpectedly adventurous-woman.

Reporter Eden Huckabee needs a story. And when she discovers Nash’s dirty little secret, she thinks she’s found it. But Eden doesn’t count on Nash turning the tables on her-or that she will fall so deeply for this unbelievably sexy, one-in-a-billion Beaumont.

~  ~  ~

Katie Lane author photoKatie Lane is the USA Today bestselling author of the Deep in the Heart of TexasHunk for the Holidays, and Overnight Billionaires series.  Katie lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and when she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and cuddling with her high school sweetheart and cairn terrier Roo.  You can contact Katie at:  www.katielanebooks.com, Twitter @ktlane3, or Facebook.com/katielaneauthor

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

 

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Tips for Writing Descriptions

I recently received this question on Goodreads: Do you have any tips that help you when it comes to writing character and setting descriptions?

Writing description is my least favorite part of the process! I’m not a big fan of reading description either, and I often skim it. Consequently, I leave out a lot of description in the first draft and weave it in later. I also feel like I have to work harder at making it work and study and practice the craft. In other words, I devote more attention to this aspect of writing.

Characters

Bruise

I’ve documented the progression of a bruise on my arm so I write the color right.

I almost always have an idea of what the main characters look like before I begin a book. I search the internet for photos (usually of celebrities since they’re easy to find) of people who I think resemble my characters. This is more for the cover art folks than it is for me, but I’ve been known to refer to these photos from time to time if I find my descriptions becoming stale. I put these photos in files and on my Pinterest boards, https://www.pinterest.com/sakingauthor/, and will print out one or two for each character.

Need to freshen a facial expression or body part? Google it, look at artwork and photos. There are artists’ books specifically for facial expressions. And online shopping has made researching clothes easy peasy. I’ve even photographed the progression of a bruise on my arm for a character in the new series. Want to know what a bullet does to a person’s head? Yep, online.

Setting

Herd of mule deer in front of a lodge.

Low season in Red River, New Mexico. These mulies were the largest crowd we saw.

I enjoy learning about different locations: visiting and researching. Last year, I traveled to Red River, New Mexico during the off-season to get a feel for the town when it wasn’t packed with tourists. I took lots of photos and videos, and journaled about my impressions. On the internet, I research weather, flora and fauna, and sunrise and sunset times as well as other celestial events. I bookmark websites, pull photos and even check out YouTube videos. I’ve also been known to solicit input on my Facebook page. One follower sent me a terrific video of elk meandering down the main drag of a mountain tourist town in Colorado. For businesses and homes, I search online for photos, and again, file them away. I hate interior design, but fortunately not everyone feels that way, and I can find photos online and in magazines of rooms that give me the ambience I’m looking for. Although, if it’s the room of someone on a budget, I’ve lived it, so no research necessary.

Examples

Ocean sunset

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii
I love in-person research.

In the book I’m working on now, I have a very brief scene at the Austin Executive Airport. I’ve never been there, and the scene was too short to warrant a visit, so I found photos and videos online. Even though I was born and raised in Houston, I don’t know much about the Museum District where Landon lives in Waiting for Ty. Google Earth and real estate websites helped with that. In Tempting Meredith, there’s an important scene at the edge of a lake where the characters are watching a deer and her fawn. I found an online video of a mama and her baby for inspiration. For Sharing Hailey, I found the Hawaiian vacation home that her brother rents on VRBO (great resource!). I expanded on that house–added a second floor and a pool, and moved the ohana from above the garage to a separate building.

Writing, aka Making It Work

I do a ton of research that never makes it into descriptions but still adds flavor. (Or maybe not. Maybe that’s just an excuse to do research!) One important aspect of writing description is to use words that reflect the mood of the scene. For instance, if the scene is light, snow will be fluffy and sparkly. If the scene is heavier, snowfall will close in on the character and feel oppressive. It could be a nuisance if the character is trying to drive somewhere and the roads are snow-packed. Or it could be just what she needs if she’s relaxing in front of a floor-to-ceiling window and drinking hot chocolate. Same applies to characters. If you’re in the head of a character who distrusts the person she’s interacting with, her description of that character is going to be different than if she trusts him. A gang member’s thoughts about a beautiful woman will probably be cruder than a librarian’s.

The best way to get a feel for writing descriptions is by reading and then studying the works of authors who do it well, authors you love. Because if you love them, they’re doing it right!

Speaking of love, I’d love for you to share your tips, because I’m always learning!

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

 

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A Week in the Life of a Writer

Do Not Disturb sign

I could use one of these.

Since I began writing in 2010, I’ve kept a time card of my work. It’s divided into different departments of the business known as Samantha Ann King: studying craft, research, business and writing. Here’s what the week of March 14-20 looked like.*

Disclaimer: My daughter was home for spring break, so I took some time off to enjoy her company.

Craft: 1:50. I’m currently working through Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices and More packet. I like to read a lesson before I start writing then try to apply that lesson to the writing. I worked three lessons last week.

Research: 6:35. Research has been heavier than normal over the last three months because I spend four to five hours a week at the BCSO Citizens Academy. The classes are fascinating, and I’ve connected with a SWAT sniper, who has helped flesh out parts of my WIP. Research is dangerous for me. I enjoy it so much that I can get lost in it. It’s one reason I like to get out of the house to write. The internet is less likely to suck me in when I’m away from my secure home wifi.

Parade Magazine April 2016 CoverBusiness: 6:45. Unless it’s urgent, business gets done on weekends. This category is a hodgepodge. I’m the guest author coordinator for the Café, so that work goes here. Also, blog posts that I write. Promotional work. Contracts. Writing conferences and meetings. (Haven’t been doing many of those lately.) Last week was a lot heavier than normal for business. One of the guest posts for the Café came in late and one was on time, so I had two posts to get ready. While I was working on those, I realized that I had four days to write my March post. Then I learned that I would be featured in Parade Magazine’s April issue of What People Earn, so I was scrambling to maximize the exposure.

Laptop with books

He makes it look sooo easy.

Writing: 11:40. This is the actual writing of the book. Putting the words on the computer and editing them. Plotting goes here, too. The manuscript. The dreaded synopsis. The query letter.

Total: 26:50*

Is this what every week looks like? No. Most weeks are heavier on writing, closer to twenty hours. When a book is nearing release, it’s more business. If I take a writing workshop online or in person, it can be weighted toward craft.

There you have it. A week in the life.

*No chocolate was consumed. None.

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Cafe in March 2016.

 

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Opposites Attract

MagnetsOpposites attract. I’ve seen it in real life. In fact, I’m living it. And I prefer it in the romances I write and read. The bad boy and good girl (Kristen Ashley, Motorcycle Man). Or bad girl and good boy (Lauren Dane, Laid Bare). The socially inept science geek and the social butterfly (Delphine Dryden, The Theory of Attraction; my book, Waiting for Ty). The rich girl and the boy from the wrong side of the tracks (Lisa Kleypas, Sugar Daddy). The introvert and the extrovert (Julia Quinn, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton). The soldier and the pacifist (Penelope Williamson, The Outsider). The Republican and the Democrat (the 1994 movie Speechless; my book, Tempting Meredith). Opposite sides of a war (Kresley Cole, any of the Immortals After Dark).

But why do opposites attract? Well…

Is there anything more seductive than wanting something you shouldn’t want, something that is oh-so-bad for you? Think chocolate lava cake when you’re trying to lose a few pounds.

How about something that takes you out of your comfort zone? Like a city dweller on a cattle drive. Or someone without that risk-taking gene jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

Or curiosity about other cultures and lifestyles that takes you to a foreign country or even a different region of your own country.

Turns out, biology also plays a role. In a study by Claus Wedekind, women were given the t-shirts of six different men who had worn the shirt for two days. They were asked to rate the smell of the shirts. When the women weren’t taking oral contraceptives, they rated the scent of men with MHC different from their own more highly than men with similar MHC. In other words, they were attracted to the scent of men with DNA different from their own.

But what happens after you’ve eaten that cake or checked out China or jumped out of the airplane, or become accustomed to those different pheromones? Isn’t the thrill gone? Is it, as my mom would say, “Been there, done that.”

Maybe.

Yin and Yang symbolFalling in love isn’t just about the initial attraction. It’s also about staying in love. It’s about learning from each other, strengthening each other’s weaknesses, and knowing that sometimes those weaknesses are strengths. It’s yin and yang, a balance of opposites.

At least, that’s been my experience.

What about you? Do you subscribe to the opposites attract theory?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

 

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Writing: The Bare Necessities

fish

I’ve joined the adult coloring movement.

This month I’ve been bouncing all over the place, searching for a topic for my January post. First, it was everything I’ve learned about the complexities of American English from my work as a literacy volunteer. There was also the househunting show I saw on HGTV with the woman who needed a fancy office to write her first book. And then I thought I’d talk about coloring books. Or the online writing workshop I’m taking with Margie Lawson and how anal I am about her color-coded EDITS system. Until I walked into our TV room, where my husband was working with a power tool, and it occurred to me how sexy he is when he’s home-improving.

Squirrel!

What does any of this, other than Margie’s workshop, have to do with writing? Well, they’re all inspiring my work…except the woman searching for the perfect office. Snort.

Last fall, I decided to do something I’ve been thinking about for years, volunteer as a literacy tutor. After two meetings with my ESL literacy student, I’ve decided that anyone who can learn English as a second language is truly gifted. My student asks question that force me to think about the precision of our words and choosing the correct one(s). For instance, our phrase, “the other day.” For me it can mean anything from a week ago to a couple of days ago. For others, it might mean two weeks ago or longer. I finally decided that if someone says “the other day,” specificity isn’t important. Oh, and the phrase, “I’m sorry.” We say it to apologize for mistakes we make, but we also use it when someone experiences a loss (of life, health, property) even though we’re not responsible for that loss. Weird, huh? It never occurred to me how odd that is or how confusing it can be, until my student pointed it out. Cardinal and ordinal numbers? When to use which and when you can use either? Yeah, I’m dusting off some brain cells.

rooster

Coloring frees my mind and jump-starts creativity. Bonus, it’s soothing and has fewer calories than alcohol.

After creating a map for the town in my new series, I realized how much I miss coloring. I hadn’t done any since the kids outgrew it. Sooo I’ve joined the adult coloring movement. My daughter gave me two books for Christmas, and I’d already bought the crayons (the 152 box with the sharpener) and colored pencils (24 count). (After experimenting with both, I’ve settled on colored pencils. They blend and go on the paper better. Just in case you’re wondering.) Coloring frees my mind and jump-starts creativity. Bonus, it’s soothing and has fewer calories than alcohol.

Margie is helping me empower the emotion in my manuscript. In fact, she’s been doing that since she spoke at a LERA conference in 2011. While that one day with her certainly benefited my writing, I needed a refresher and more depth. The class began January 1, but I didn’t register until January 15, so I’ve been playing catch-up. After six lectures and peppering Margie with questions, I’ve finally figured out her color-coded EDITS system and stopped obsessing over choosing the “right” color. My plan is to work up to her Immersion Master Class.

And my sexy husband? Well, he’s always an inspiration for my heroes and a wonderful resource for things I know little about: physics, programming, hunting, power-tooling, beer, dimples. He’s not only sexy when he’s home-improving, but he also rocks it when he’s hunched over the computer paying bills and even more so when he’s hunched over the computer resolving a technical issue for me.

As a writer, I absolutely need inspiration and new experiences and I need to improve my craft. These things aren’t optional.

So the question of the day is what do you absolutely need to keep creating…other than time and the perfect office. 😉

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

 

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Researching Romantic Suspense

My first book, Sharing Hailey, had a romantic suspense element to it. My second and third books wanted romantic suspense—begged for it—but after doing all the law enforcement and legal research for that first book, I didn’t want to go there again. It’s not that I don’t like research. I love it. It’s just that it takes sooo long. However, with my new series, I gave in to my characters’ demand for that combination of danger and romance, and did a cannon ball into the pool of law enforcement. I’d like to share some of the wonderful resources I’ve discovered.

Prisoner transport van

Prisoner transport van

I started with my local citizens’ police academy. I had no idea these existed. I was even more surprised that the Albuquerque Police Department conducted a three month, two nights a week class at the police academy training center. Someone from every department in APD made a presentation on the work specific to that department: SWAT, K-9 (with a demo), Recruiting, Violent Crimes, Air Support, Horse Mounted, Explosive Ordinance Disposal (the bomb squad), and Prisoner Transport, to name a few. We toured the 911 call center, the evidence warehouse, the prisoner transport center (where prisoners are processed before being taken to the county jail), and the real time crime center. Some participants got weapons training at the APD Firing Range. (I passed. It was cold, rainy and windy that day. I’ll only go so far for my art!) We even got to experience FATS, the Firearms Training Simulator, where police cadets learn to handle use of force situations. It gave me a whole new perspective on what law enforcement is dealing with in the field.

This combination toilet/drinking fountain is a good enough reason to stay out of jail.

This combination toilet/drinking fountain is a good reason to stay out of jail.

Next up was the Writers’ Police Academy, the brain child of Lee Lofland, a former law enforcement officer. His resume is extensive. Some of the highlights: sheriff’s deputy, patrol officer, K-9 handler, undercover officer and detective. He’s worked narcotics, homicide, murder-for-hire, robbery and burglary. His book, Police Procedure and Investigation, is part of Writers Digest Books Howdunit series and sits within easy reach when I’m at my desk.

This year, the Writers’ Police Academy was held for the first time in Appleton, Wisconsin at Fox Valley Technical College Public Safety Training Center. It’s an incredible facility with resources for training firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMTs. I got hands-on experience in lifting fingerprints (processed using superglue, I kid you not), intubating a dummy, delivering a baby, breaching and searching a house, and use of force in MILO (another virtual reality training system for law enforcement). I toured the county jail, which was across the street from the conference hotel, and let me tell you that was a little uncomfortable. We could see the inmates through the glass windows and they could see us. I learned about the mindset of cops, women in law enforcement, interview and interrogation, processing a crime scene (Did you know that DNA evidence goes in a paper bag? Plastic can degrade the DNA.), and forensic psychology. The conference was so jam-packed that I didn’t get to attend every workshop I was interested in. Decisions, decisions.

Learning to intubate. Hands-on at the Writers' Police Academy.

Learning to intubate. Hands-on at the Writers’ Police Academy.

Delivering a baby at the Writers' Police Academy

Delivering a baby at the Writers’ Police Academy

Samantha Ann King (back, left) Fingerprinting 101.

Samantha Ann King (back, left) Fingerprinting 101, Writers’ Police Academy

NYT bestselling author Allison Brennan shared research tips, including the fact that many FBI field offices host their own citizens academies. Can’t make this incredible conference? Don’t have a local citizens police academy? Allison suggested checking out the Crime Scene Questions for Writers, where law enforcement officers, private detectives, medical examiners, EMTs, and combat medics (again, just to name a few) answer writers’ questions so we can get it right.

A red barn in WisconsinI also saw more red barns in one hour than I have in the fifty-five years prior to that conference, but that’s another blog.

The research has been fascinating, not only from a writer’s standpoint but from a citizen’s, too. I’m glad I took the plunge. Do you have any resources to share?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

 

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Starbucks: The Writer’s Office

I discovered Starbucks this summer. Okay, pick up your jaw from the floor. I know I’m late to the party. No surprise there. While many writers have been using Starbucks as their base for years, I didn’t understand the appeal. Why go to a coffee shop and spend money to write when I could do it for free at home? Not to mention the commute time—a whole five minutes. But I’m onto the secret. (It was a secret, right?)

Starbucks shaken iced green teaI actually write at Starbucks. At first I thought it was the fancy tea (I’m not a coffee person), so I tried to reproduce the experience at home, because I’m a writer, Jim, not a millionaire (Star Trek, anyone?), and I was hoping to save some money. Nope, it wasn’t the tea. I thought it might be the decadent Starbucks pastry, so I added a croissant to my reproduction. And then another and another. Four croissants later and all I’d managed to do was increase my waistline, not my word count. Perhaps it was all the sunlight streaming through Starbucks huge windows. Sooo I opened the blinds of a large picture window in my living room and sat in front of it with my laptop.

You guessed it. Nada.

I gave up and returned to Starbucks, thinking the novelty would wear off after a month or so, because, hey, that’s how I roll. Nothing lasts forever. Before I met my husband, none of my romantic relationships lasted longer than six months, and I was looking for an out after three. Before I became a writer, none of my jobs lasted longer than two years, and I was bored after one.

But five months after that first trip to Starbucks, I’m still making that five-minute commute and still producing words.

Of course, I’ve analyzed this phenomena to death. But it all boils down to one thing. No distractions. Well, not many, anyway. No laundry. No dirty house. No internet! It’s the same reason I considered renting office space somewhere…anywhere but my house. But as I said before, I’m not made of money so I never followed through. Besides, I’d have to clean office space, and I’d probably add a fridge and a microwave, which means I’d pop up every five minutes to use said fridge and microwave. Plus, I’d probably get WiFi. We all know what a sand trap that is.

True, Starbucks has WiFi, but hackers have scared me away from unsecured connections, so no email, no online games (I’m talking about you, Text Twist, and you, Bounce Out.), and no extensive research. Yes, I have a phone, and yes, I have a data plan, but I’m all thumbs when it comes to typing on my cell, so I do it as little as possible. And yes, some of the Starbucks regulars who don’t write sometimes want to chat instead of read the book sitting in their laps, but I’m great at avoiding eye contact, and when that fails I’m pretty good at quickie conversations.

Starbucks logoAnd the expense? I figure the approximately $75 a month I spend on tea and the occasional pastry (specifically the Iced Lemon Pound Cake) is pretty cheap for office space.

So here’s to five months of Starbucks bliss. May there be many more in my future.

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café in 2015.

 

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I love my heroes, but…

I love my heroes. Their love, patience, and strength of character helps ground my heroines and come to terms with what’s right for them. The strong jaw, six-pack abs and broad shoulders don’t hurt, either. But for me, the heroine always comes first. The story begins and ends with her.

Don’t get me wrong. I love men. My first three books featured two men in some combination. MFM, MMF, and MM. But when there’s a heroine in my story, she’s the focus. She’s the one I most easily relate to. She’s not necessarily easy to write. I assume this is because she is some part of me. A part I have difficulty facing. But let’s not get into my demons.

Laid Bare coverTempted coverWhen it comes to reading, the books I love most, the stories that really speak to me are steeped in the heroine. It’s one reason I’m such a big fan of Megan Hart. There are depths to her heroines that are sometimes painful to read. Elle in Dirty. Sadie in Broken. Anne in Tempted. Olivia in Naked. Their secrets touch me to the core. But she’s not the only author whose heroines have stuck with me. Although I read Penelope Williamson’s The Outsider in Outsider coverSugar Daddy cover1997, the heroine, Rachel Yoder, still haunts me. Liberty Jones in Lisa Kleypas’ Sugar Daddy. Sugar Beth Carey in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Ain’t She Sweet. Erin Brown in Lauren Dane’s Laid Bare. These women, these heroines, stand out from the thousands of books I’ve read.

So there you have it. I love my heroes, but…

Who are your favorite heroines, the ones you can’t get out of your head?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

 

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Eat, Drink and Live Well!

Eat, drink and live well! That’s my motto. Really. It’s on the family crest. Or it would be, if I had one.

I’m pretty sure I starved to death in a previous life. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for my obsession with food. In this life, I’ve never wanted for food. My dad called me the human garbage disposal, because I’d clean my plate and the rest of the table’s, too. My husband and kids will tell you that I’m always worrying about the next meal…what we’ll eat, when we’ll eat, where we’ll eat. One of my friends (a writer) complained that whenever she came to my house I insisted on feeding her. Didn’t matter if it was meal time or not. She probably wouldn’t have said a word, except she was trying to lose weight.

chocolate souffleSo of course, food plays an important role in my books. All of them. It’s one way my characters show love or at least interest. It’s a case of art imitating life. And it’s not just the heroines who cook. In fact, my heroes are more likely to feed the women than vice versa. Because the way to my—uh—my heroines’ hearts is their stomachs. A butter knife tender, prime steak, grilled rare; a baked potato, loaded (Did you know that carbs and butter are aphrodisiacs?); a glass of red wine; a dessert that I/they don’t have room for.

In Sharing Hailey, breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. It’s where Hailey’s brother learns that Hailey is dating his two best friends…at the same time. In Tempting Meredith, Charlie woos Meredith with Tex-Mex, and Blaine eases her fears during a no-pressure picnic in the woods. In Waiting for Ty, pizza and beer lead to a lip lock that leads to…well, it leads to more than garlic breath.

Thanks to the beer, Landon had a great buzz going. He was keeping up with the game better. It was close. Texas and Colorado exchanged leads several times. When the final horn sounded, Texas had the win by only two points.

Landon and Ty shouted, “Yeah!”

Jumping to his feet, Landon high-tenned Ty. As soon as their palms touched, Landon curled his fingers around his best friend’s. He didn’t think about it, didn’t plan it. He just did it.

Hands clasped above their heads, callused palm to callused palm, their gazes locked. Landon didn’t move, didn’t breathe, afraid to break the contact. The crowd’s cheers and the Longhorn band’s brass-heavy fight song merged to create distant white noise.

His heart pounded as he searched Ty’s expression for some indication of what he was thinking, what he wanted…or didn’t want. His eyes were dark and glittering. Anger? His lips were parted slightly, his breath coming in shallow puffs. Excitement?

Damn it. Why couldn’t he read him?

His skin stretched tight, hypersensitive, desperate for Ty’s touch. His lips drew closer, an intangible, invisible force playing tug of war with his better intentions.

Closer. His lids drifted to half-mast.

Closer. Ty’s scent, musky and masculine, overwhelmed his own.

Closer. Ty’s breath whispered against his lips.

Closer. Five beers and four years of longing conspired against him. Their lips touched, gently at first, as if by accident, an almost imperceptible summer breeze skipping over bare skin.

Meals are for sharing not only food but also the day’s ups and downs. They’re about creating tenuous bonds or strengthening existing ones. As many of the Café’s authors have revealed, meals are for seducing. You don’t even need the beer/liquor/wine. In fact, sometimes it’s best to avoid alcohol, as in this scene from Tempting Meredith where Meredith has sipped a little too much Don Julio 1942.

Bottle of Don Julio 1942

…she grabbed Charlie’s arms to steady herself. “Uh-oh. I think I drank too much. The room’s twirling. Twirling,” she said in a singsong voice as she followed the motion with her head, hoping to counteract the constant spiraling. Didn’t help. “Oh, yeah. It’s definitely twirling.” She tightened her grip on him.

“Are you gonna throw up?” he asked.

“I don’t throw up,” she said, offended at the suggestion. “Not when I’m drunk.”

“That’s good news.” He scooped her up, sending a fresh surge to the merry-go-round in her head.

He jostled her as he walked, but she didn’t mind. She liked being carried by Charlie. He was warm and safe, and he smelled good, like…like…well, like something good. She supposed he just smelled like Charlie, and that was good enough. Even with the world spinning, it was nice. He laid her on a cushy bed. She curled up on her side and closed her eyes. She’d just sleep for a few minutes until the world stopped spinning. Except it twirled faster when she closed her eyes, so she opened them and stared at a beige wall. Then the light went out and the wall darkened.

She struggled to sit up. “What are y’all doing?”

Blaine pointed the remote at the TV. “We’re gonna catch the end of the Rangers game.”

She crawled to the head of the bed and leaned against the headboard. “Then can we please have sex?”

“If you haven’t gone to sleep by then,” Blaine answered.

“I won’t,” she said happily.

Blaine and Charlie bounced on the bed, bumping her shoulders then settling against her like earmuffs. They spoke in low tones to each other, the drone of the game in the background. Following their conversation took too much effort. But it was nice simply sitting here alone with them. No one else around. Just the three of them like before. She’d been waiting weeks for this. She snuggled down between them and sighed. No, longer than weeks. Years, maybe. Or her whole life, except that was rather dramatic.

Their voices soothed. She slipped further down, and her eyelids drooped. The world stopped spinning.

Food, wine, and romance…where hearts meet (or not), secrets are revealed (or not), life slows to a more sensuous pace (or not), and characters eat, drink and live well (hopefully).

Do you have a food motto?

This post first appeared at The Contemporary Romance Café.

 

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