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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

True Confessions of a Southern? Novelist

I have a confession to make. I think I write Romance stories. Okay, okay. Maybe they aren’t Romance as in the genre that has a beautiful pattern that must be fulfilled to qualify as a Romance novel but to me they are full of the essence of all good things romantic. People misaligned and finding themselves and one another, even over the course of death and great mystery, (The Gin Girl) Old girlfriends from down south and back home showing up on the doorstep of promising, dashing political figures (The Messenger of Magnolia Street). Skirt chasing men finding out that there is strong magic and medicine in finding the right woman and that it’s never too late for true love, Saints In Limbo. Romance I tell you! Yes, the characters are a wild and wooly bunch, usually raised on biscuits and fried chicken by strong women with wide hips who are not afraid to tell the truth. Yes, they usually bump into some mysterious happenings that must be resolved come, well - you know – and let’s just say a lot of high water and strange circumstance does arrive at their door. But in the midst of all this wildness you can believe a connection is being made between two people that will navigate the waters of their own special connection.

People often ask me what have been some of the greatest influences of my writing life. Many times they are wondering if it was great authors like Harper Lee, Flannery O’Conner, or William Faulkner who have influenced me. What I have to tell them truthfully is that it was Grandmama (the worrier with the sixth sense), Mema (the snake killer and cake baker), Aunt Leaner (the little one that could move a train) Katie Ruth (the second mama and Private eye), Uncle John (the dancing, singing, life-loving wild man), Uncle Eddie Louis (the great liar) and so on and so forth. It was the people who surrounded me in the late night on those porches telling stories, lies, and alibis that fed me more fodder for novel writing than I would ever need. And being born to be a writer I took it all in like nobody’s business. When they talked about love, loss, and broken hearted women who were out to get even, I pretended not to even be there I sat so small so they wouldn’t send me somewhere else. When they talked about wars and true love that lasts forever, I took note. When my closet romantic Mema received her new issue of True Confession magazine I tried to sneak them and read them while she cooked in that hot kitchen. When she told us kids to come in and be quiet because it was time for her ‘stories’ as she called her soap operas, we dutifully lined up on the little couch for a dose of the Days of Our Lives. Trust me, it was the romance that kept her coming back for more.

In my novels I think it’s the romance found and lost and rediscovered between many of the characters that keep people coming back for more. It’s the reason I receive notes about why they’ve read the novels more than once or begged me to write a sequel but by the time I get the note I’m already trapped, lost between the lines of another woman’s story who is navigating the tricky lines of love. Never in a novel have all these elements come together more than in The Miracle of Mercy Land. With elements of suspense, a touch of the supernatural, and a breath of mystery and a whole lot of room for shall we say, the powerful possibilities of romance.

I think if my Mema, the great romantic that she was, could be here to turn the pages she would agree with me. The Miracle of Mercy Land contains all the best elements of her True Confessions magazines and her daily ‘stories’. I think it will keep readers turning pages to discover if in the middle of the greatest mystery of her life Mercy Land will dare to allow love to find a way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Books versus Movies

My name is Thia and I am a movie-holic. I love movies. I am a straight-up movie buff. I am also addicted to romance novels. These two things are my vices and I am extremely proud to say that I am not looking for rehabilitation from my addictions anytime soon.

One thing that kinda gripes me is when people complain about movies that are adapted from books. You will hear these people say things like – The characters did not look like I thought they would. Or They left out a bunch of the good stuff. Or The movie just did not capture the message of the book. This is when I have to grit my teeth and not say Well, duuuhh! Of course they are not the same!!

Reading is a journey for your imagination. Unless you are reading one of those books that have bright, pretty pictures on every page, you are in complete control of how you perceive the characters and their actions. The authors are merely our guides. What your mind does with the information it takes in is truly up to you. I have discussed with other readers how we would picture a certain hero or heroine. It is amazing (not really ;) ) how many of us insert ourselves into the role of heroine or hero. Or how many of us see the same character is such completely different ways.

For example, ONE FOR THE MONEY by Janet Evanovich has just begun filming. This is one of my all time favorite books and series. I have always imagined the lead female as a Marisa Tomei or Sandra Bullock as the beautiful, slightly flaky, trouble magnet heroine. However, Katherine Heigl has been cast in that role. Oh, this is something we could debate all day. Who is Ranger? The perfect Joe Morelli is so-and-so. In the end, the actors chosen to play these parts may become our new ideal for their characters. There is no perfect answer for this side of the issue. But it sure is fun to get together and discuss with your friends. ;)

My son is the world's worst critic for books-turned-movies. He always complains about whole storylines being left out. (Especially Harry Potter movies.) What I try to remind him is that in a book, we are given a lot more background detail that does not necessarily need to be in a movie. We read that the boy is walking into a dark and dreary alley that smells of filth and decay. With a movie, we can see that scenario. Also, it is simply too much to ask for to have the screenwriters transfer every aspect of a book and still not have us spending all day at the movies. Can you imagine?

TV series' adapted from books are a particular favorite of mine. Oh, Sookie! True Blood is all the rage among my fellow paranormal reading friends! My hubs, who is very much not a reader, loves the show as much as I do. However, I have to watch myself so that I don't discuss how Eric did this on the show but would never have done that in the book. (And Oh, I love to see what Eric does! Could they have picked a better Eric?? He is not what I had originally pictured, but I love their choice!!)

My solution or final thought on the whole book versus movie debacle – Take them each for what they are. Movies and Books are separate forms of entertainment. Do not compare them, because truthfully, apples and grapples are not really the same thing. One is a version of the other, but they are simply not the same thing.

Now, are there any movie characters or television characters that you think fit your ideas of them perfectly? Which ones far exceeded your expectations and which ones bombed? What book are you looking forward to seeing as a movie? Which one has been the best so far? Which one tanked? Is there a book you want to see as a movie – give us the who, what, when, and wheres!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oh, The Rakes! Anna Campbell - Guest Blogger

Oh, Those Rakes! By Anna Campbell

Hello, Romance Readers! I’m delighted to be here! Thank you for inviting me.

As a long term romance reader, and someone who spends a lot of time talking to romance readers, I know there are a couple of terms that really get people excited about a story. Bride. Scandal. Scoundrel. Sin. Just check out the titles in the historical romance section of any bookstore and you’ll get a nice list – all very delicious.

But to me, the most delicious of all is ‘rake’.

Think of the images those two words ‘Regency rake’ conjure up. The bad boy who’s irresistibly tempting. Someone wild and reckless and passionate. A man who breaks the rules of his society and just clicks his elegant fingers at any disapproval. Tall. Usually dark (although not always – I’m currently writing a blond!). Definitely handsome. Turned out in those gorgeous Regency clothes – coat, neckcloth, breeches, boots. A man who can seduce any woman with a single look. Witty. Arrogant. Intelligent. Sardonic. Skilled in the sensual arts.

Oh, yeah, we LOVE a rake.

Especially when he meets that one woman who turns his world upside down. That’s one of the reasons I love to read about a rake falling in love. These gorgeous alphas are always completely at sea when that happens. All their charm and sophistication won’t save them from tumbling head over heels – usually into drama! Or comedy. There’s plenty of scope for comedy when a rake falls in love. Mr. I’m Always In Control finds there’s some things he can’t control – and he doesn’t like it!

My June release from Avon, MY RECKLESS SURRENDER, features a notorious rake and I had such fun writing him. Tarquin Vale, Earl of Ashcroft, has his world pretty much as he wants it. He definitely qualifies as my first non-tortured hero!

Then a mysterious woman called Diana proposes a short affair to while away the summer months while most of the ton is away on their estates. At first he says no – he’s suspicious of this woman who is so obviously following a secret agenda. But it doesn’t take him long to succumb. Things get very messy indeed when both he and Diana start navigating deeper waters emotionally than either ever expected.

Before Diana propositions Tarquin, she has a stereotypical image of a rake in her mind. Perhaps she’s been reading too many historical romances, LOL! She has a chance to make all her dreams come true, but first she must seduce the Earl of Ashcroft. She’s sure a careless, selfish libertine won’t endanger her heart.

Instead of the jaded roué she expects, she discovers a man like no other. A man with his own code of honor. A man she falls in love with, even though her secrets threaten nothing but disaster.

You can read an excerpt of MY RECKLESS SURRENDER on my website at: http://www.annacampbell.info/recklesssurrender.html

So do you have a favorite rake in romance? Why do you think the rake is such a mainstay of the historical romance genre? Let’s talk rakes in all their decadent glory!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Guest Blogger: Cindi Myers

Writing short stuff

Like many budding writers, I started out writing short stories. Specifically, I wrote confession stories for "the Trues" — True Story, True Romance, True Confessions, True Experience and Modern Romance. Told in first person, these were stories of everyday women facing problems. Sometimes the problems were ordinary — interfering mothers in law or impossible to please bosses. Other times they were bizarre — stealing the neighbor's baby or moonlighting as a stripper. I loved writing those stories and they were a good way to learn how to write emotion, character and dialogue.

Writing short stories is very different from writing complete novels. I don't do much short story writing these days. One exception is novellas. Novellas are between 20,000 and 30,000 words. Most of the ones I've written have been at the invitation of my publisher, Harlequin, who often comes up with a theme for the novella collection. Then it's up to me to create a story to fit that theme.

This month I have two books out. A full-length novel from Harlequin Superromance, The Father For Her Son, and a novella, "Melting Point" in the collection, Baby, It's Cold Outside! with Jennifer Greene and Merline Lovelace. The title says it all about the theme of this book — all the stories take place where it's cold. I was told the book could be set anywhere as long as it was cold and romantic and maybe even a little exotic. It didn't take me long to decide to set my story in Iceland. Hot springs, geysers, fjiords, not to mention tall blond men with sexy accents. What more could a gal want? I made my heroine an American in Iceland on business and my hero a sexy Olympic athlete with a reputation as a playboy. I hope you'll agree they create a lot of sizzle for such a cold climate.

Novellas are a fun change for the writer, and I think they are for the reader, too. Most novellas can be read in an hour or two, making them perfect for busy times. What do you think of novellas? Do you enjoy reading them or not? Why or why not?


THE FATHER FOR HER SON Harlequin Superromance January 2010 Life hasn't been easy for single mom Marlee Britton, but she's proud of her ability to look after herself and her son. Then old flame Troy Denton shows up after seven years, wanting to be a father to his son. and to rekindle his relationship with Marlee. While Troy struggles to prove himself trustworthy, Marlee wonders how she can ever give her heart to the man who broke it so long ago.

**************************MELTING POINT" in BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE with Jennifer Greene and Merline Lovelace Harlequin Anthology January 2010 Kristjan Gunnarson is Iceland's first ever Olympic medalist. Coloradoan Stacy Bristol thinks he'll be the perfect model for her new advertising campaign, but she isn't prepared for the impact handsome Kristjan has on her. As she supervises filming around Iceland, Stacy fights her attraction to Kristjan. Can a down-to-business American and a footloose Icelander find love in the land of ice and fire?

******************************************Bio: Cindi Myers became one of the most popular people in eighth grade when she and her best friend wrote and illustrated their own historical romance novel. The manuscript was eventually confiscated by her English teacher, who told her she should spend her time learning to properly conjugate a sentence. Since then, Cindi has gone on to write more than three dozen novels, both historical and contemporary. She also teaches writing and is a popular speaker and workshop presenter. She produces a weekly market newsletter at http://www.cindimyersmarketnews.wordpress.com/ Visit her website at http://www.cindimyers.com/