Archive for 'romance'

Shop talk: Patty Blount on the three stories
Author Patty Blount recently commented on the craft of writing romance novels, and I found what she said to be so insightful, so perceptive, that I’m keen to share it:

 

Writing romance is among the most challenging genres because you’re actually writing three stories. His and Hers (or His and His, Hers and Hers, depending on your sub-genre). 

Two main characters. Two trajectories and two distinct story arcs.

The third story is their romance itself.

It really fries my tomatoes when industry critics dismiss romance as bodice-rippers and lady porn and so on because that fact is often missed. Every romance novel has three stories that don’t just intersect . . . they become enmeshed, melded, just as relationships do.

We start off with one character immersed in his world, his problems, his wounds. Then, we cut to the other character and get the same experience. What makes romance so unique and so powerful, in my opinion, is how we authors craft these two people so that the story isn’t simply “Person Meets Love Interest.”

It’s Person Struggling Through Life

Meets Another Person Struggling Through Life

and Learns How To Love This Person Despite/Because of Those Struggles

So That Their Ending Feels Like a Beginning

That’s the Third story . . . the love that develops between these two characters has to be real and be forever and that kind of love becomes its own story.

That’s not just good writing, it’s magic.

Photo: Patty BlountMore about Patty here.
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Book love: My Fair Duchess

I recently had the pleasure of reading Megan Frampton’s wonderful historical romance My Fair Duchess. I love Megan’s writing style; her voice is so distinctive, and she imbues her story with clever wit and “you are there” vividness. Her protagonists, Genevieve and Archie, are such interesting and nuanced characters that it’s a joy to follow them along to their well-deserved happy-ever-after.

Cover for My Fair Duchess by Megan Frampton

More about Megan here.

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“Are you reading a romance novel?”

Hahaha."Are you reading a romance novel?" A Baby Blues comic strip.

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A sneak peek at my next book!

Yesterday I shared with you the first part of my RT Book Reviews interview. Today I’m equally delighted to share the second part: an excerpt from the second book in the Penhallow Dynasty series, The Laird Takes a Bride, coming your way this August.

Here’s a snippet from Chapter 2, in which my heroine Fiona Douglass learns that she’s going to have to participate in a Bachelor-like competition.

Father came striding in, his muddy boots leaving a damp, malodorous trail behind him. In one hand he held an opened letter which he tossed at Fiona.

“You’re off to Castle Tadgh, girl,” he said.

“What? Why?” she demanded.

“Clan decree.”

Frowning, Fiona picked up the paper from the floor at her feet and scanned both sides. “This is addressed to me.”

Father shrugged, and Mother said in a high, excited voice, “What on earth is going on?”

“Alasdair Penhallow’s to choose a bride from among the eligible lasses of the Eight Clans, that’s what’s going on. I suppose I’ll have to reinstate her dowry. Although those drains in the turnip fields are clogging in a bad way.”

Penhallow, thought Fiona, her brain spinning frantically. Penhallow again! Then she seized upon one pertinent element. “I’m sure I’m too old for this, Father!”

He only gave her a wolfish smile. “Read the letter.”

She did. And glared at Father. “It says here that if I were twenty-eight, I’d be past the age of eligibility. This is ridiculous! Demeaning! I’d rather die than traipse off to Castle Tadgh to be displayed like a sheep before some reprobate!”

“Keep reading.”

In a disbelieving voice Fiona read out loud: “‘The consequence for failing to abide by sacred clan law is death. Said female to be weighted with stones and flung into the nearest loch known to have a depth greater than twenty feet. Bagpipe accompaniment optional.’”

“How romantic!” put in Cousin Isobel, wreathed in smiles. “Fiona, dear, what a wonderful opportunity for you!”

Fiona glared at her, too, wishing she could hang a millstone around that dame’s plump neck and shove her into the closest body of water.  

“You’re to leave tomorrow,” said Father.

“Tomorrow?” Mother exclaimed. “But I couldn’t possibly be ready to leave by then!”

“Oh, you’re not going,” Father told her, then looked over at Fiona, his eyes twinkling maliciously. “I’m sending Isobel as her chaperone.”

There was a stunned silence.

“No!” said Fiona with revulsion, even as Cousin Isobel gave a little shriek of delight and said:

“My dear Bruce! What an honor! You can be sure I’ll take very, very good care of dear Fiona!”

Fiona shot her a malevolent glance. Yes, just as you did in Edinburgh nine years ago, you old bat, when I came for a nice long visit. Encouraging Logan Munro’s advances to me. Leaving us alone together, when you knew it was wrong. And look what happened. I fell head over heels in love with him, and expected to marry him. Only it didn’t quite turn out that way, did it?

Mother faltered, “But surely I ought to go . . . I simply assumed —”

“My mind’s made up, madam. We’ll have no further discussion on the topic. Besides, they won’t be gone long. Penhallow will take one look at her and I reckon that’ll be that.”

A soft, incomprehensible murmur of distress came from Mother but she didn’t dare to actually say anything, and Fiona responded, with a politeness that imperfectly concealed deep irony, “Why, thank you, Father. Everyone says I take after you, after all.”

If you’d like to read this on the RT Book Reviews website, click here.

Want to learn more about The Laird Takes a Bride? Click here for more info; here to read Chapter 1; and here to preorder.

 

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Shop talk: unconventional historical heroines

Really enjoyed a recent post by fellow Avon author Lenora Bell on Heroes and Heartbreakers, in which she talks about some fascinating historical-romance heroines with unconventional occupations. And she mentions one of my own longtime favorites: Judith Ivory’s The Proposition, a sensitive, beautifully written story about a heroine who’s a brilliant linguist.Cover image: The Proposition by Judith Ivory

By the way, Lenora’s most recent book, Blame It on the Duke, features a heroine who’s also a talented linguist — and it just hit the USA Today bestsellers list!

 

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Word of the day: Tatterdemalion

A fantastic word for an author of historical romance.

Graphic: "tatterdemalion" and its definition, via Merriam-Webster

I used it with pleasure in You May Kiss the Bride, in a scene in which my hero’s haughty, exacting grandmother is busy orchestrating my heroine Livia Stuart’s metamorphosis from a rustic country miss into an elegant diamond of the first water.

Still smarting from a recent encounter with my hero Gabriel, Livia thinks:

She could hardly wait to show herself off to Gabriel Penhallow, and flaunt her transformation in his face. . . . But for this pleasure she had to wait. Two, then three weeks went by, and still he absented himself from his grandmother’s home. Mrs. Penhallow grumbled about his undutiful attitude, then in the very next breath added that it was just as well, for she would, she announced, forbid his presence anyway, until Miss Stuart was no longer a half-savage, unlettered, ill-spoken, maladroit, freckled tatterdemalion.

“I’m not freckled, ma’am,” was all Livia could think to answer, and then promptly felt like a fool.

“Not freckled, you say? You are free to delude yourself, Miss Stuart, if you choose,” frostily replied Mrs. Penhallow. “The Penhallows never have freckles. Have Flye apply the Milk of Almonds twice today. Now! Suppose you have just been introduced to — let us say — the Duke of Egremont. How do you greet him?”

This snippet appears in Chapter 5, but you can read all of Chapter 1 here.

Would you like to order your copy of You May Kiss the Bride? Click here to see your various options in print, ebook, and audio, as well as the gift-with-purchase option offered through my local indie bookstore Auntie’s.

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Jane Austen, inspiration for romance authors

I had a blast writing this little think-piece for Bookish on how Jane Austen continues to inspire romance novelists everywhere. Please enjoy. Graphic: "How Jane Austen Continues to Inspire Romance Novelists," a think-piece for Bookish by Lisa Berne, author of You May Kiss the Bride (Avon Books)

Want to read this post on Bookish? Click here.

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Word of the day: Sarcasm

An excellent word for a writer. It can be a lot of fun having one (or more) of your characters be sarcastic.

Graphic: "sarcasm" and its definition, via Merriam-Webster

 

I used it in You May Kiss the Bride, when my hero, Gabriel Penhallow, is discussing travel plans with his strong-willed grandmother. Although on the surface they’re rather tetchy, there’s a quiet little subtext here which shows how they’ve moved beyond the cool formality which for many years has kept them all too detached from each other. My heroine, Livia, perceives this with joy.

Grandmama jumped again into the fray. “I suppose,” she said to Gabriel, “you wish to stay at the Swan.”

“As it’s the only other establishment in Wells where I’d even consider stabling the horses, yes.”

“The sheets are always damp.”

“And how would you know that? You’ve just said you exclusively patronize the Royal Hart.”

“It is the common report,” answered Grandmama coldly.

“Fine! You stay at the Royal Hart, and I’ll stay at the Swan.”

“Don’t be absurd.”

“It’s not absurd. It seems to me an eminently practical plan.”

“Need I remind you that we travel under your protection?” Grandmama smiled triumphantly, and it was to be seen that she had clinched the argument, for Gabriel glared but added:

“Don’t blame me when we all emerge from the Hart infested with fleas.”

“We shan’t,” she answered, with maddening serenity. “I won’t allow it. Dear me, you’re quite peevish today! Go and ride your horse until your temper cools. That’s what Richard always did. Not that he was ever as snappish as you are.”

“It grieves me to inform you that it’s raining today. Again.”

“Have you no other occupation? Surely you have something better to do than badger a helpless old woman.”

He visibly ground his teeth, his eyes flashing even more magnificently. “Yes,” he said with heavy sarcasm, “extremely helpless.”

There was, Livia mused, something vivifying about a good brangle. Grandmama had a nice healthy flush of color in her cheeks. And Gabriel looked so handsome that she wished she could go over and take hold of him in a brazen way and kiss him for a good long time.

This snippet appears in Chapter 12, but if you like, you can read all of Chapter 1 here.

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Romance panel at the Get Lit! festival

Will you be in the Spokane, WA, area next Saturday afternoon? If so, perhaps you might like to join me as I moderate a Get Lit! panel featuring fellow romance authors Asa Maria Bradley, Tamara Morgan, Katee Robert, and Rebecca Zanetti. We’ll be talking about what it’s like to write romance, how they go about it, their advice for aspiring authors, and more. Plus, I hear there’s going to be door prizes. :)

More info about the “What’s in a Kiss?” panel here.

 

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“To change her own story”

One of my favorite quotes from You May Kiss the Bride. I must say, I’m very fond of my spunky heroine Livia.

Graphic: "It was time to take action," a quote from You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne (Avon Books)

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