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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!


Thanks to all of you who stopped by my site this year. It made it extra special for me. It's been an up and down year, with winning and being nominated for awards and losing a dear uncle, with working hard and keeping to my deadlines. With trying to share my time equally with family and friends. With always keeping my mother and father, near to my heart.

I thought I'd post some pictures to highlight my favorite things from 2007. Hope you enjoy!

The Family - My Dear Husband Don, My daughter Nikki and son Jason.

Sunset at my cousin's ranch in north Las Vegas.

My closest friends from elementary school. I won't say how
many years we've known each other!
Pam on the left, me, Robin and Mary

The Newly Engaged
Zac and Nikki

Being a part of Petticoats and Pistols has been a blast. Let me say I don't know a better group of authors headed up by Pam Crooks with Cheryl St. John, Geralyn Dawson, Stacey Kayne, Linda Broday, Mary Connealy, Patricia Potter, Karen Kay and Elizabeth Lane. I hope you get a chance to stop by in 2008! The fillies are cooking up lots of fun blogs and contests!

I was thrilled to win the 2006 National Reader's Choice Award this year!

And lastly, working this year with Operation Gratitude to send care packages to American soldiers around the globe. It was a truly rewarding experience.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Way to a Man's Heart Featured on CPQ Magazine and a Chuckle!

My book, The Way to a Man's Heart will have a featured ad in CPQ Magazine, a digital magazine for readers and writers of romance. You can download the FREE December issue of this magazine this week at Cobblestone Press. Check it out!!

And Visit me tomorrow (Friday) at Petticoats and Pistols to find out what I have in common with Ben Affleck!

Thanks to my friend Mary, I received a good chuckle today:
The Husband Store
A brand new store has just opened in New York City that sells Husbands.

When women go to choose a husband, they have to follow the instructions at the entrance: 'you may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are 6 floors and the value of the products increase as you ascend the flights. You may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you CANNOT go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband.

On the 1st floor the sign on the door reads:
Floor 1 - These men have jobs.

The 2nd floor sign reads:
Floor 2 - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

The 3rd floor sign reads:
Floor 3 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids and are extremely good looking."Wow!" she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the 4th floor and the sign reads:
Floor 4 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help with Housework."Oh, mercy me!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!"

Still, she goes to the 5th floor and sign reads:
Floor 5 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, help with Housework and Have A Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the 6th floor and the sign reads:
Floor 6 - You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.

To avoid gender bias charges, the store's owner opens a New Wives store just across the street.

The 1st floor has wives that love sex.

The 2nd floor has wives that love sex and have money.

The 3rd through 6th floors have never been visited...

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

12 Deals of Christmas on Eharlequin! Don't miss this!

Hi everyone,

Seems there's so much happening lately during the Holiday Rush. Working, shopping, decorating, shopping, baking, shopping. If you're looking for an easy way to shop for your favorite authors don't miss the great new deals on Eharlequin!

I wanted to share their 12 Deals of Christmas. We've missed a few, but there's still a week's worth of great shopping on the site for you with incredible deals that include free shipping, free books and extra goodies.

Go to:

And remember Bodine's Bounty and my new January Desire, The Corporate Raider's Revenge, will make a great stocking stuffer for someone you love - including yourself!

Happy Shopping all!!

P.S. Have you voted for Bodine's Bounty at
They're offering a prize for one lucky voter, so hop on over!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Auction and 66 Authors!

My Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America is offering a unique opportunity to bid on a T-Shirt signed by many of the greatest of all romance authors. I think you'll agree when you see the list:

Nora Roberts

Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Stella Cameron

Vickie Lewis Thompson

Harlequin Senior Editor - Mary Theresa Hussy

and 60 more authors. You may even find my name on there!

Go on over to to find out more info and start bidding!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fans of Bodine's Bounty

Hi All,

I just found out that Bodine's Bounty is nominated for the first Annual Christmas Award at Red Roses for Authors review site. If you're a fan of the story and would like to cast your vote - this is a reader/reviewer award, -- please go to:
Red Roses for Authors

Voting ends on December 15th

Thanks for all of your support!!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Thanksgiving Greeting!

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

It's autumn and we've had a heat wave here in southern CA. The past three days we've hit highs in the 90's. Hardly seems like winter is just around the corner!

It's amazing how quickly time flies. I've been very busy lately working on a new proposal for Desire! And I'm happy to say, there will be a Desire Trilogy coming from me in 2009 titled The Tremaynes. Each story centers around three brothers, three hotels in three very different settings. My cowboy brother will have a story set in Arizona. My corporate brother's story will be set in New Orleans and my playboy brother's story will be set in Hawaii! I'm looking forward to writing the Tremaynes in the upcoming year. Lots of work, but lots of fun too. And I love all those locales - and hope to do "research" trips to Arizona and New Orleans soon. Maybe even Hawaii.

Friday, November 16th, I'll be blogging at Petticoats and Pistols. Please stop and say hello - I'll be revealing my "average" writing day and it's not all bon bons and roses!

I'm so pleased with my covers lately! November's Western shows the great Sierra Nevadas in the background and my January 2008 cover depicts the my hero and heroine perfectly.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving

filled with all your favorite things, including good health, good eating and lots of love!

Happy Reading Everyone!

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Come visit me today at Tote Bags and Blogs where I'm Guest Blogging about Alpha and Beta Heroes and everyone in between!

There's a free drawing for a 2-1 Desire if you post a comment there.

And here's a sneak peak of my newest Desire coming out in January 2008!

I really love the cover!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Win in Winter Contest Up and Running!

To celebrate the release of my newest western Bodine's Bounty in bookstores in November we have a new Win In Winter contest. Prizes include a $20.00 Borders Gift Card and an autographed book from my available titles.

Bodine's Bounty is available NOW on and on
Click here to link you through to the page and read an excerpt!

Heiress Emma Marie Rourke is naive, innocent and very, very determined. She'll find her outlaw father and make it as a singer.

Bodine-just Bodine-has promises to keep. And looking for some spoiled flibbertigibbet runaway isn't top on his list. But, dammit, his conscience won't let him rest until he finds her. And at least there's a reward for retrieving her.

Protecting Emma isn't the easy job he expects it to be. Bodine is startled when he can't get his mind - or his hands-off Emma's diminutive figure! He's sworn to keep her safe - but who will save her from him?

And visit me on Friday, October 12 at Petticoats And Pistols where I'll be blogging and offering a free giveaway!

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Way to a Man's Heart

Just thought I'd post this since it's one of my favorite
contemporaries, re-released now as an ebook with
It was originally a Kensington Precious Gem .

I love the cover and the story goes:

It’s getting hot in Christy Evans’ kitchen! Kyle Warren, the boy next door she made sure to avoid in high school, has moved back home and he’s turning up the heat. Keeping her distance has never been so difficult. This time around Kyle’s helping her with her catering business, Edible Delights, being a good neighbor and refusing to take no for an answer. Her defenses are crumbling like undercooked cobbler ... can she keep denying the gorgeous man who looks at her like she’s his next “edible delight”?

It's a fast-paced, emotion-packed story about the girl-next-door-who-got-away.And was recently nominated for the CAPA award.

Hope you check it out at Cobblestone Press and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

To Blurb or not to Blurb ...

Here's the back cover copy for Bodine's Bounty!

A hard-bitten bounty hunter
has no time for love…
Heiress Emma Marie Rourke is naive, innocent and
very, very determined. She’ll find her outlaw father
and make it as a singer.
Bodine—just Bodine—has promises to keep. And
looking for some spoiled flibbertigibbet runaway isn’t
top of his list. But, dammit, his conscience won’t let him
rest until he finds her. And at least there’s a reward for
retrieving her.
Protecting Emma isn’t the easy job he expects it to be.
Bodine is startled when he can’t get his mind—or his
hands—off Emma’s diminutive figure! He’s sworn to
keep her safe—but who will save her from him?
No spoiled heiress will stand in his way!

How many of you know what a flibbertigibbet is?
This was a new word for me, so I looked it up --
certainly not a word I've used before. This is what it means:
Main Entry: flib·ber·ti·gib·bet
Pronunciation: "fli-b&r-tE-'ji-b&tFunction: nounEtymology: Middle English flepergebet: a silly flighty person - flib·ber·ti·gib·bety /-b&-tE/ adjective
It wasn't in my Thesaurus either so I searched further
and found this in another dictionary:
A silly, irresponsible or scatterbrained person,
especially one who chatters and gossips.
Emma Marie Rourke isn't really any of those things. She's determined and a bit confused in how to go about achieving her goals, but she's a strong young woman. Can you tell I didn't write this back cover blurb? I thought it would be interesting to see how many of you have heard this word used before?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Come Visit Me Today

Hi All.

I'm blogging today (Friday) at Petticoats and Pistols.

Stop by and say hello!

Learn what Elvis, Bon Jovi and Bounty Hunters have in common!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

No Reservations

It took me weeks to go see this movie. We're not the movie-goers we once were. Mainly because either there aren't as many movies out there that interest us or because the quality of selections has gone way down hill. Maybe a combination of both. I'm looking forward to seeing Russell Crowe's 3:10 to Yuma, but other than that, the movies this summer have fallen flat, imo.

So when this movie came out, I said "Yes", a romantic comedy about food and chefs. My husband was not overly thrilled to take me to see this "chick flick" but finally last weekend we saw it and I loved it. I love the cooking channels on cable, so what can I say?

The story appealed to me on many levels. It spoke of an intelligent woman, not looking for love - she already had a brilliant career as a chef and seemed married to her work. Then her neice comes unexpectedly into her life, and her whole world changes. She's suddenly enmeshed in taking on a mother's load and a career. She certainly has no room in her life for romance. But the new male chef she works with has other plans. He's a good guy - definitely not an alpha hero, and somewhat of a contradiction at times. You can't help but like the guy.

But the real star of this movie is the young actress, Abigail Breslin. She's got such great appeal. She's adorable and so believeable as the little girl who has lost so much and has to deal with a new home and new life. I don't know - I guess I was just in the mood for an emotional, enjoyable, pull-at-your heartstrings romance.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Free Giveaway on Friday

Hi all,

I'm blogging about Country Western Music and my favorite artists and how they inspire my writing on Petticoats and Pistols on Friday. Stop by and say hello. I'll be holding a drawing for a book from my backlist and one set of Harlequin coupons.

But for the record I have 3 sets of Harlequin Coupons I'd like to pass on to my avid blogger readers here on this page. You just have to be one of the first 3 to email me at and I'll pass them along to you. Send me your address and I'll put them in the mail to you!
Hope to hear from you tomorrow here or at Petticoats!!
Have a Safe Labor Day Weekend!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Winner of Men Are Just Happier People Contest!

And the winner of my last weekly drawing for August is:

Cherie J


Contact me at with your address and your book preference from this list of available titles!

Bunking Down with the Boss
Heiress Beware
Like Lightning
Fortune's Vengeful Groom
Between the CEO'S Sheets

Happy Friday everyone and Happy Reading!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Writer's Block Anyone? -- Contest Continues

I've never experienced it before, so when it happened to me, my nerves went raw. When the ideas don't flow, when I can't think up a plot, when my characters aren't aren't talking to me, their lips sealed and I can't get into their heads that's writer's block and it's what makes my heart race like crazy.

Not in a good way.

It's been days of me trying to work out a plot. And I think to myself "Tonight, I'm gonna sit my butt down and finish the synopsis. I won't go to bed, until I do."

Three attempts later, I find myself lying on the sofa, eyes shut, trying to sort out my character's conflicts. I'm close, I know I am, but it's not working. My partner in crime and masterful plotter, my husband tries to help. He's great coming up with ideas. He's great to bounce ideas off of, but nothing's working. My head clouds up. I can't think. Nothing's coming and everything's coming, all at once.

I console myself. Start on the synopsis, get something down. Didn't Nora Roberts say to put garbage on the page, then fix it?

Finally it dawns on me. I'm trying too hard. I need a break. It's been 21 books over 10 years of writing and for the past three years, back to back to back and double deadlines. Maybe I need a break. I need to free up my mind. I don't mean a vacation, because writers know that even when we're on vacation, we're writing in our heads, accessing situations for suitable storylines, noticing surroundings and people -- it's obsessive, it ridiculous and it's wonderful. For most of us, it's truly what we were meant to do.

Most writers are compulsive and if I may, slightly neurotic. There's always the devil in your head questioning you, what if I can't do it anymore? What if I am fresh out of ideas forever?

So, I backed off. I didn't think about writing. I read a book, (always good for inspiration). I went for frozen yogurt, did normal things, got away to the beach, tried not to think at all. I freed up my mind. I didn't press. I didn't demand.

And guess what? The story came to me. It uncluttered in my mind and I saw the characters for who they are. I have the story now. It's there and it's exciting and I'm over the block and the panic. I never thought it would happen to me. It's wasn't pretty. My husband was great, comforting and tried to help. The support meant so much.

So now I'm off- to finish the synopsis and start my story. I'm back in the saddle. It's where I'm supposed to be.

Remember --contest continues: Post why you think Men Are Happy People from Monday's blog and you'll be entered into a drawing on Friday!

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Monday Morning Funny-- Contest Continues

Men Are Just Happier People

(For women who love and write about men- for men who want to smile this morning)

What do you expect from such simple creatures? Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves.

Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never be pregnant.

You can wear a white T-shirt to a waterpark. You can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth.

The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt.

Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Graying hair adds attraction. Wedding dress~$5000. Tux rental~$100.

People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them. The occasional well-rendered belch is practically expected. New shoes don't cut, blister, or mangle your feet. One mood all the time. Phone conversations are over in 30 seconds flat. You know stuff about tanks. A five-day vacation requires only one suitcase. You can open all your own jars.

You get extra credit for the slightest act of thoughtfulness. If someone forgets to invite you, he or she can still be your friend.

Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack. Three pairs of shoes are more than enough. You almost never have strap problems in public. You are unable to see wrinkles in your clothes.Everything on your face stays its original color. The same hairstyle lasts for years, maybe decades. You only have to shave your face and neck. You can play with toys all your life.

Your belly usually hides your big hips. One wallet and one pair of shoes one color for all seasons. You can wear shorts no matter how your legs look. You can "do" your nails with a pocket knife. You have freedom of choice concerning growing a mustache. You can do Christmas shopping for 25 relatives on December 24 in 25 minutes.

No wonder men are happier!

Random Drawing! Which one of these do you agree or disagree with most? Do you have another one to add to the list? Your post will enter you into my last weekly August Blog contest. You'll win a free autographed book from my list of available titles and Harlequin/Silhouette Coupons worth $5.00. Good luck!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Winner of This Week's Blog Contest

Thanks all for posting. I hope you liked the
new western Petticoats and Pistols site.
The winner of the random drawing is:

Next up on this blog:
More on Getting Summer Write and one last August weekly contest.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sneak Peek at Bodine's Bounty - Getting Summer Write!

Here's a peek at my November cover.

I love the snowy background of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and it's the first time I've had a horse in the forefront of the scene. That's Lola - she's with my hero/herione for the entire story.
In the story, Bodine is a little older than the man here and more embittered by life, a bounty hunter by trade, but Bodine looks determined and rugged enough on this cover for me! I think the artist captured the essence of Emma well - she's a young woman who's run off on her own for the first time in her life. Our hero is secretly being paid by her protective grandmother to keep her unharmed and untouched.


I really struggled with the opening to this story. Did I need a prologue to explain some of the backstory and set up the book? Do I start with Bodine making the secret deal with Emma's grandmother? But after all my deliberation, I knew I had to START MY STORY WITH ACTION.

When in doubt, an action scene never fails to grab the audience getting them involved from early on. There's a brief set-up in the first few paragraphs, then WHAM! Emma gets herself in big trouble and Bodine comes to her rescue. The first scene tells a whole lot about both characters, their motivations and keeps a a fast pace for most of the first chapter. After three tries, I finally got it right and was happy with the result.

When starting the story, I really gave a great deal of thought on how to best depict my characters and their conflict in those first few scenes. Each character was on their own separate mission in the story, but their lives become entwined early on. I knew I wanted to begin the story there - at the point where they are thrown together. Their FIRST MEET was memorable. I put Emma in a position where she was forced to trust Bodine and from the start she wasn't sure she made the right decision. It was the right decision for me. Once the first chapter was written and it worked beautifully, I figured all the time and attempts at getting it just right had panned out.

Contest Continues --
Visit me tomorrow (FRIDAY) on Petticoats and Pistols and post a comment on my blog, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COWBOYS ... and their trusty companions. You'll be entered in a drawing for an autographed book and Free Harlequin/Silhouette coupons.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Starting the Story in the Right Place -- Getting Summer Write and Contest

It's essential to start a story in the right place, but how do we know where that is? The best and easiest way is to start in the middle of a scene, with some action or something provocative happening. Sometimes, dialogue works very well. You need a sentence, a phrase, a paragraph or even a whole scene that will immediately draw the reader in.

The best example that come to mind right now, are the James Bond movies. When you see the opening scene, it's usually Bond in a dangerous situation (one that has nothing to do with the upcoming story, btw) with lots of action and stunts. It's fast-paced, draws the movie-goer in immediately, your eyes are glued to the screen.

Now, when writing romance, we CAN'T write a scene that doesn't directly relate to our story. Every scene has to move the story forward. It has to be intriguing enough to engage the reader and make them want to read the rest of the story.

In Janet Evanovich's first Stephanie Plum series, One For the Money, after reading the first line, I knew I'd read the entire collection, no doubt.
"There are some men who enter a woman's life and screw it up forever. Joseph Morelli did this to me -- not forever, but periodically." The next paragraph had me glued and then I was a goner.

In Susan Mallery's Sizzling, her first line went like this, "Until 6:45 on that Thursday morning, women had always loved Reid Buchanan." This statement makes you ask a question, why? What happened? You already know something key about the hero.

In Sharon Sala's Deep in the Heart, "For all intents and purposes, Samantha Jean Carlyle was dead. It was just the when and how of it that had yet to happen." Again, a very intriguing opening that makes you wonder, what's happening to this woman right now.

An opening line, paragraph or scene takes a good deal of thought and time. Although sometimes, it just comes to you. Those "oh yeah" moments are wonderful when they happen. You just KNOW it the right place to start the story. But if that doesn't happen, you must ask yourself, how will the opening tell enough of the story, make it exciting and yet leave the reader intrigued enough to continue reading. Give it a good deal of thought. Then plunge in and see if it works. Here's the opening to my Work in Progress. I played with these lines until I was sure they worked. They tell you just enough about the character to hopefully make you want to read on.

He was good at throwing things.
He knew how to throw a great party.
He knew how to throw his fist into a reporter's camera.
He knew how to throw on Armani to make an impression.
Mostly though, Luke O'Conner knew how to throw a baseball at 95 miles an hour.

Already from this opening, you know a good deal about my character, his nature and maybe some of his character flaws. Are you intrigued? Hope so.

Often a new writer opens with too much backstory. They tell you all about the main character's history and what happened to him/her. Often its a lackluster opening with "too much information." Facts and history are better off placed later on in the story, woven in by small threads that fit the story together, piece by piece. It's an art and really good writers do this to perfection.

What stories have you read lately that have drawn you in immediately?

Answer that question and be included in my weekly drawing for a Desire from my backlist of available titles.

And if you visit our new all western site and make a comment on
Petticoats and Pistols all this week, especially Friday when I make my blog debut, you're name will be entered once for every comment you make.

Be sure to let me know about your comments at to be entered.

Up Next on the Blog: A sneak peek at my new historical Bodine's Bounty and how I started that first chapter.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Petticoats and Pistols Launch Day!

Today's the day! We're launching our new site for Petticoats and Pistols! You have to stop on by and take a peek. It's really fun and we're really proud of the way it turned out.

Visit our town of Wildflower Creek, see the Larkspur Library, play a game in the Sunflower Saloon and enjoy the whole experience! Post a comment on my blog today for the launch and stop by and see me on Friday too!

Hope to see you there!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Contest Winners!

Yes, it's Barry Manilow!!

He was in line in front of me and he bought tickets to the Bourne Identity. Little did I know he'd sit right behind me. He was trying for a disguise with a hat and his hair was real straight, not full when you see him on TV. I LOVE his music, always have. So it was a big treat. And no, I didn't say anything to him. I could tell, he just wanted to see the movie. He dashed out quickly during the ending credits.

Okay - because of my GOOF, everyone who posted here this week WINS!

But you have to contact me with your email address at

Let me know which book from my available titles you'd like.

Thanks for guessing and posting this week!

And look for our all new, all western author website launching next week at

Have a great weekend!!!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


We're guessing who sat directly behind me at the movie theatre when I was watching the Bourne Identity. And I GOOFED - He was on American Idol's Top Ten LAST season! He's a Las Vegas Headliner and has ties to Dick Clark.

I wondered when you all came up with great answers, but none were right. My apologies! My memory is fading, bloggers. Because of my goof, everyone who guesses corrrectly now will WIN!

Good luck! And check back tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


7 Things You Need To Know to Make You a Better Writer -- Getting Summer Write! Contest Continues Below...

1. Always trust your OWN instincts. Critique partners are great sources for other sets of eyes and ears, but ultimately it's your story and your career. Always listen with an open mind - then go with your gut.

2. Put your work aside for a few days -- take a breather or start on something else. Then go back to read your story. Ask yourself and be brutal -- Would I Want to Read this Story? Then ask yourself Why or Why Not?

3. If you feel your "middle" is lagging, STOP! Write down 20 Things That Will Happen in the Story. They can be silly or serious - then draw a FEW ideas from those twenty and get back to writing your story. ie: Blow something up, burn something down, someone unexpected shows up, natural disaster, the circus comes to town, there's a murder, etc. Force yourself to put 20 things down on paper. Think about your characters and how your new ideas work in the story.

4. Try to let go of your internal editor. Go for broke. Make your story edgy. Be Brave. Be Daring. Be Bold. Then read the scenes you've written and pull back the reins a bit if you need to. It's far better than writing "safe". The most memorable stories are ones that fill the reader with a sense of surprise, wonder and shock.

5. Remember that Good Storytelling is a must. Beautiful prose fill the pages and if you can do both, great. But ultimately it's the story that wins out.

6. Remember to keep your "voice" constant. Too much voice can cloud the story just as much as too little voice kills the story. Keep your style fresh, open and honest. Don't mimic. Finding your voice is freeing.

7. Remember writing is your passion! When you struggle, think of it as a challenge, not a chore. You have a gift that you share with others. You should love the process and enjoy the journey. You're the creator of your own destiny. It's the best job in the world!

Contest Continues .... so who do you suppose sat right behind me while I was watching Bourne Identity? (Hint: he was the guest/singer on American Idol and also a great songwriter) Keep guessing here and I'll post the name on Friday.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum - Getting Summer Write and Contest continues...

Are you one of the 70 million who saw this movie this weekend? What did you think? How would you compare it to the first and second movie? If you're a fan-- and I am, I really like Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. He's perfect for the role - well, he created it after all. And I liked the whole premise - that his identity was taken from him and he's fighting to stay one step ahead of the people trying to kill him.

So why am I writing about this movie today and not talking about writing per se? Well, I am -- really. I walked out of this movie with a small sense of satisfaction that ,"Ah, okay- now I know why he was being chased and why they want to kill him." But I was left totally unsatisfied in other ways. A good book can do that to you too. It can answer all the questions, satisfy your curiosity, but at the same time, not really leave you feeling like you got your money's worth.

Perhaps there are many who would say that the 3rd Bourne movie is the best. I'd have to disagree. Why? Because there was no heart and soul to this movie. I had 2 movie's worth of time and expectation invested here and I wanted more. There was a scant amount of dialogue. The movie-goer never got "involved" with Bourne. He hardly spoke to anyone. Every time I thought he might come close to displaying his emotions, to letting us know what he was feeling, to getting close to someone, another long-lasting action scene ensued. The director felt it necessary to jar the camera so much (to display the gripping stunts and action realistically) I had to turn away. It hurt my eyes to watch. Those incredible stunts were fast and furious and hardly recognizable. And it wasn't just my take on it -- others in the theatre felt the same way. So for the 3rd installment we get lots and lots of rapid action, fight scenes, but very little plot, very little emotion. If I hadn't seen the first 2 movies, I wouldn't have known anything about Jason Bourne. And I probably wouldn't have cared about him.

There needs to be some down time in a movie, where the movie-goer can take a breath, get to know the character, feel what he feels, to truly get involved. The same holds true for a good book. This goes hand in hand with the last two weeks where we've talked about character and emotion. Let us see "who" the character is, what he wants, what his motivation is, through dialogue and interaction with other characters and introspection. Let us "feel" what he feels. To do that, the writer has to let emotions speak for the character. That involvement was missing in this movie. At least for me. But it ended well, answered questions and because I'd seen the other two, this sequel held up. But it could have been much better.

When writing, that's the ultimate goal -- to make your story the best that it can be.

Contest - Guess who sat directly behind me in the theatre when I was watching the Bourne Ultimatum? (Hint: male singer who was a guest vocalist/instructor to the American Idols Top Ten this season)

Win a Book from my backlist of Available titles if you guess correctly.

Be Sure to check back on Friday when I post the winner.

Friday, August 03, 2007


And the winner of the first weekly drawing picked randomly of an autographed copy of Bunking Down with the Boss or any other of my available titles is:


Please contact me at to recieve your book and thanks for blogging.

The Blog Contest Continues on Monday!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Getting Summer Write - More on Emotion.. Contest continues

When I began thinking about Bunking Down with the Boss, I knew I wanted to write a story that had more depth and emotion than any other book I'd written to date. Granted, my westerns have a good deal of emotion. There's more time and more pages to get into the character's heads. The westerns have a bit more humor in them at times, but they are deeply rooted in conflict as well.

I'd like to think that Bunking Down has both, a deeply-rooted conflict and some sassy humor. I know I always enjoy a book that can grip your heart tight and still make you smile.

A writer knows they've done their job, when they have evoked emotions in their readers. Here's what reviewers have said:

I was drawn into the story and I felt the grief and tears came easily. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to see if these two people could find love at the end of this story. Helen Slifer Writers Unlimited Reviewer

Bunking Down with the Boss is one of those stories that will tug at your emotions. Charlene Sands shows us that taking a chance on love is always difficult. Both Caroline and Sam are dealing with issues that make taking that chance even more difficult. Loveable and realistic characters, you can't help but root for them to be true to their hearts and take that chance. Debby Guyette-Cataromance Reviews

The emotionally charged scenes and torrid lovemaking will pull you in and make this story on to savor and enjoy. Patti Fischer - Romance Reviews Today

When I received these reviews as well as some nice fan mail, I knew I'd hit my mark. The subject matter of this book automatically pulls you in. Sam Beaumont is a handsome, sexy CEO, who lost his wife and child in an accident that he feels responsible for. The guilt eats at him daily. He hates the man he's become and leaves his company behind, not to find peace. Sam doesn't think he deserves peace, but to remain "dead" inside. He drifts from place to place, keeping annonymous, taking on odd jobs and trying not to "feel" anything but the death of his soul. Then he meets Caroline -- and their lives become entwined. Their first encounter leaves him cold, and he figures he can accept a job from the widowed woman -- there's no chance of him feeling anything for her. Caroline has trust issues. She's wary of men, after a disatrous marriage to a man who abandoned her and their small child and destroying her family business. But even though we never see Caroline's young daughter, Annabelle in the story, her presence is felt - the child is visiting her grandparents for the month - convincing Sam that he's not the man for Caroline. He's failed over and over at fatherhood. Put those elements together along with magical, sizzling chemisty between the two and you have a story that can't help evoke emotion.

Humor is also a great way to evoke emotion. Sometimes, it's slapstick with falls and crazy scenarios, like in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series and sometimes it's done with witty dialogue. Sometimes, the circumstances themselves, lend to humor. Some authors don't do any humor at all. It's not their style and that's okay. They have a more dramatic side to their writing. And for some authors, like Maureen Child, the humor automatically comes out. She's witty and funny in real life and it's reflected in her writing style.

If you want to evoke real emotion in the reader and make them care you must tap into genuine feelings that make your reader identify. Here are a few examples from author Cheryl St. John that provoke immediate reactions:

animals of any type
abused women
abused children
mental imbalances
money or lack of money

The last Susan Mallery story I read tapped into:

uniforms (military man)
underdog (heroine)
lack of money

Bunking Down tapped into these feelings:
lack of money

What are you reading or writing that taps into those above feelings?

The Blog Contest Continues!
Check back on Friday to see if you've won from my random drawing.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Getting Summer Write - Emotion/Blog Contest

I was thrilled to have received this wonderful inscribed marble plaque last week for winning the 2006 National Readers' Choice Award for Bunking Down with the Boss. It was unexpected and quite an honor because of all the books I've written thus far, this one ranks up there with highly-packed EMOTION.

And for fun, I'll be running a weekly CONTEST about the Writing Topic of the Week. This week it's emotion -- so all you have to do is post here Monday through Friday about what book you've read recently or in the past that really hit you hard with emotion. What emotions did the book evoke and why?

One winner will be picked randomly from your comments and I'll send out a signed Bunking Down with the Boss, or any other of my available titles you'd like. Read the blog all week and I'll post the winners on Friday.

I'll go first. I just finished Susan Mallery's SIZZLING. It was a great story about a famous jock baseball player and his grandmother's nurse, a sort of plain Jane. Susan has a way to suck you right into the story immediately with intriguing characters that you instantly care about. Why? Well the heroine has lived all her life envying her "perfect" sister and as a result, she feels inferior. It's something we can relate to on a very elemental basis. We've all known someone close to us,that seemed to have it all. But our heroine isn't a wilting flower - she's good at her job, feisty and takes no bull from the handsome hunk who's had women adoring him all of his life.

Immediately our hero sees something different in the heroine. And she makes him sees that living the good life, isn't good enough. Through her, he believes he can be a better man. There's heart tugging emotion when we learn the "perfect" sister is dying and the sacrifices our heroine makes because of her love of the sister she'd always envyed. There's a scene in the story that is so heartbreaking, that I talked myself out of crying, "I'm okay. I can handle this." But the words and the emotion evoked were too much for me and soon I found tears running down my face. And just minutes later into the story, I'm cheering and happy again. That's the benchmark for a good story - make the reader feel emotion, make it real and make it believable.

When writing a story, put your whole heart into it. Dig deep inside and flesh out all the emotions you can. An easy way to do this is to really "know" your main characters. Know who they are and what's most important to them. Feel what they feel, see what they see. Know their perceptions and what's underneath the facade that they show to the outside world. Most often when I see unpublished works the key element missing in the story is that, I don't care. I don't care about the character. I don't care about what they want in life. I don't care to continue reading the story.

Putting a level of emotion in the story from the very beginning is fundamental. The opening line or opening few paragraphs should give the reader a real clear sense of who the characters are - on an emotional level. Emotion shouldn't be resigned to just dialogue. Put it in description, narrative action and certainly in introspection. Think about some amazing opening lines of books you've read. Didn't they make you want to read the entire book in one sitting? This is Susan's opening line in Sizzling. Note how it immediately tells you something about the hero and the line makes you want to continue reading to find out more. "Until six forty-five that Thursday morning, women had always loved Reid Buchanan. "

Okay, we've all known men like Reid Buchanon, right? But what happened to him that day? Why did everything change for him? The author's next few witty paragraphs go into detail about Reid's life to date, very briefly, but immediately we feel something about this man. We've already formed an opinion about him. That's a good thing. We care.

So what book have you read lately that evoked a good deal of emotion in you? Why? Remember to post here and check back during the week.

Next up on the blog: More on emotion! Contest continues...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Getting Summer Write - Emotion!

Speaking of emotion - I was thrilled to learn that my 2006 Bunking Down with the Boss won the 2006 National Reader's Choice Award! The reception was held in Dallas at our national convention and I hear the ceremony was lovely. Though I wasn't there to personally accept the NRCA, I couldn't be more thrilled and excited.
And it fits perfectly in the tips on emotion this week. That book, Bunking Down with the Boss, had the highest level of emotion of any book I'd ever written.

So what do you do if: YOUR STORY DOESN’T HAVE AN EMOTIONAL PUNCH. Emotion, emotion, emotion. Without making the reader “feel” something for the characters, you can’t have a compelling story. Readers must love the characters, or love to hate them. They must want what the characters want and care about whether they achieve their goals. Readers need to be “swept” away. This is after all, romance. Pacing, dialogue, conflict, characterization, description all lead to emotion. It’s important to “Show, don’t tell.”

Telling: Claire was afraid to see Joe at the prom.

Showing: Claire’s heart skipped a dreadful beat the moment she noticed Joe enter the room.

The first sentence is okay, a bit bland, but has no emotional value. It’s classic telling. The second sentence has a sense of urgency, using time and vivid description to say basically the same thing.

Laura Baker says in her workshop, “Top Ten Tools in a Writer’s Toolbox”, - “Always write to evoke an emotion.” That’s great advice because so often we hear, there’s not enough emotion in our stories. If you write each scene to evoke some emotion you’re laying the groundwork for that big emotional turning point or upheaval in the story.

We must feel what the characters feel and be able to express that on the page without telling. Here’s a good example:

“She nodded and tried to swallow, but couldn’t. Her eyes were now so dry it hurt to blink. The emptiness inside her burned and burned.”
Penelope Williamson, “The Outsider.”

“Although she hadn’t laughed again, since he’d come around the back of the barn, he kept hearing the echo of it. He felt the echo of it in the pit of his belly. It made him uneasy like the hot chinook wind.”
Penelope Williamson, “The Outsider”

Emotions deepen a character’s humility. It makes us care. If emotional layering is missing in a scene, go back and try to understand what each character is feeling.
In one of my stories, the heroine who is in love with the hero listens to him toast his sister’s engagement amid a roomful of friends. When the confirmed bachelor raises his glass and jokingly says, “I’m glad it’s you and not me, sis,” the heroine slowly lowers her champagne glass without taking a sip.
No words were spoken, there was no introspection in this scene, but that one gesture says it all. We feel what the heroine is feeling, and know she feels he’ll never believe in love, he’ll never commit. We feel her devastation -- with that one small gesture.

Jo Ferguson, our past RWA president says, she puts herself in the character’s head. She also says “write what you know best”. And that doesn’t mean just events, but also “how we feel” and “how we react” to those events. We need to break down the barriers within us and free those memories of emotion.

Emotions don't stand alone. They are complex. They integrate with other emotions. For instance what do you suppose might go hand in hand with

Anger? --- regret
With honesty? ----- embarrassment
With loneliness?----- sadness

Use all the tools at your disposal to put emotion in your story -- Dialogue, introspection, description, pacing and characterization.
Don’t force it, let it come naturally
Be true to your characters.
To me the greatest compliment an author can receive is to hear from a reader, “The story made me laugh, the story made me cry, the story made me feel.”

Here is another example of great emotion:

The tongue-and-groove wood floor threatened to come up to meet her, so Brynna collapsed onto a chair and closed her eyes until the light-headedness passed.

A few minutes later, when she could see straight, when the room had stopped spinning, she found the letter on the floor and read it again

She and Dev weren’t legally married.
Their marriage had been a sham all along.

As if she hadn’t suffered enough pain and humiliation, now this on top of it? And she’d thought things couldn’t get any worse. She couldn’t let this news get out or everyone in Rumor – and soon enough Whitehorn – would know of it. The gossips would have a field day!

Brynna thrust her fingers into her hair and closed her eyes as if not seeing would make this go away.

Marry Me ... Again,
Rita Nominated Author, Cheryl St. John

Here’s what Cheryl has to say about emotion:

AUTHOR QUOTE: The reader must feel the story. The more real or genuine the feelings you tap into, the more the reader will identify. Tap into a comfort zone, a childhood security or insecurity. Several years ago, a promising new writer in my critique group wrote a battered child into her romantic western. He hid a dirty worn-out stuffed dog under his pillow. Each time the boy got out the dog for comfort, half the critique group fumbled for tissues. It got to the point that the writer placed the tissue box on the table before she read the scenes involving the dog. A publisher snapped up that book and my friend is now a multi-published author. Why? She hooked into the readers’ feelings.

Same goes for insecurities and fears. Familiar things stir memories. Ground the reader in what he knows, then take him where you want him to go.

Tap into a feeling and the reader’s memory accompanies it. Use preconceived notions. Here are a few basic ideas that come with built-in feelings, but the possibilities are unlimited: animals of any type, orphans, abused women, abused children, underdogs in any shape or form, step-fathers, step-mothers, mental imbalances, grandparents, babies, strangers, money or lack of money, uniforms.

From Charlene – Yes, Cheryl is a dear friend and she knows how to evoke emotion in her stories so expertly, you immediately get drawn in and don’t want to stop reading. Small wonder she’s been nominated twice for a Rita and has won numerous awards through the years.

What I want to say is in your stories, MAKE EVERY SENTENCE COUNT. Does it move the scene forward? Does it evoke emotion through description and dialogue? Does it define the conflict? Each sentence has value. Don’t just throw them up there, hoping they’ll stick. Give thought to why you wrote it, and how does it help make the story compelling.

Up Next on the Blog -- Some insights on how I used emotion to make this book work. And A NEW Blog Contest to celebrate winning the NRCA!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Getting Summer Write - THE WHY'S of your CHARACTER

Often your main characters, the hero and heroine, define the conflict in your story, so it's important to know them before you start writing. Have a character sketch in your mind about who these people are - and why the reader/editor should care about them.

If you don't have characters that are sympathetic, meaning they don't evoke emotion and aren't people a reader can relate to, then you might as well not write the story. So often, I've tried to start a story without really knowing my characters and the results were not pretty. I usually ended up scraping the story. The characters weren't working, therefore, neither was the conflict.

Some writers do a complete bio of their characters in writing. They know what their favorite movie is and why. They know their favorite foods, colors, type of cars, etc. For me, those things come naturally as I write the story, so I don't set them up that way. But I do know WHO they are before I write. I know their past and what they want in their future. The backstory of your character defines them.

In BETWEEN the CEO'S SHEETS, I knew that Gina was desperate for work. She'd been embezzled by her partner and needed a job to get her lifelong dream -- GiGi Designs back on track. Since she'd been tricked by a con man, she had trust issues. But that wasn't enough. I knew I had to dig deeper with her character. She needed a reason to be wary of Wade and his job offer.
Gina and Wade had a past history together. Both felt betrayed when their very young and innocent relationship ended. Both had lost something in knowing each other.

The characters grew from that knowledge. Who they are today, was a direct result of what happened between them in the past. Knowing the backstory and how they once felt about one another, helped me to design their story today.
Each were motivated from sources and conflicts that had occured when they'd first met. So, when they meet again, nine years later, their conflicts, emotions, resentments and anger were easy to bring to the surface.

The best thing a writer can do is constantly ask yourself WHY? Why is he acting and reacting this way? Why doesn't she trust the hero? Why does he want to gain revenge on the heroine? Why... why ... why?

You must know the answers to these key questions. Sometimes the answers are simple, but sometimes they are complex. And how do each characters' WHY's intersect in the story?

In my upcoming western Bodine's Bounty - my bounty hunter hero is after the man who killed his brother. That in itself wasn't enough. That meant my hero wanted revenge. But he needed more WHY'S -- so it wasn't JUST for revenge and a sense of justice. His brother Josh was his TWIN. He was shot innocently when the outlaw had mistaken him for Bodine. NOW -- we have more Why's. NOW, we have more conflict. Bodine wanted revenge, but he's also dealing with guilt. His brother took a bullet meant for him. That rounds out the character and we know his motivation. We feel his pain. And the vows Bodine made to his brother to take care of his wife and child, keep Bodine from allowing himself to fall for my heroine. He's committed to another woman - it's his way of easing his guilt. He sacrifices his own happiness to honor the vow he made to his dying brother.

Everyone has their own style in developing their characters. It's up to the writer to figure this out for themselves. As I said earlier, I don't do bio's on my characters, but I jot down key points. Mostly, I develop a character in my head and I think a long while about them, before I write a single word. When I do finally begin writing, I LOVE how the characters come to life. They TELL me who they are. THEY often say and do things - true to their character that I'd never consciously planned out before. It's what I love most about writing them. They surprise me. They become real. Their motivations are clear.

Think about your characters and the Why's in their lives. Delve as deep as you can. All of us are very complex beings. Our "character" is defined by how we were raised, our culture, background, religion and the friends we keep. We are defined by events both good and bad in our lives. We have issues, fears, loves and desires. When you write your characters know as much about them as you can before you write a single word. Then let them tell you who they are. It's a collaberation and a partnership that you'll come to enjoy.

Coming Next on the Blog -- Emotion!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007




Monday, July 02, 2007


And the winner of two autographed Desires and a $20.00 Borders Gift card is:

Carol Mintz --- Congratulations!

Here's what Carol wrote:

Thank you so much!

I really enjoy your books and I'm looking forward to reading more of them. I would love to have copies of Bunking Down with the Boss and The Heart of a Cowboy!
Be sure to enter my new
Summer Contest at Romance Junkies!

Friday, June 29, 2007

GettingSummer Write! Good Guys Don't finish Last - the Beta Man.

So much has been written about the Alpha Man, the strong, confident silent type that sometimes, we don't realize that there's a place for the Beta man in our romances. Beta heroes are sexy. They are compassionate. They are sometimes the heroine's best friend.
The Beta Man has many of the same physical attributes as the Alpha man. He's handsome, strong and appealing. But there's a more sensitive side to him. He's Joe Average, who sometimes wears his heart on his sleeve. He's not JR Ewing of th oil business. He's Bobby Ewing. He's not Dr. McSteamy in Grey's Anatomy. He's George, everyone's best friend.

The Beta Man is the father trying to raise his teen-age daughter or the mechanic who loves what he does for a living. He's the boy next door in love with the girl who got away. He's a man struggling for success, or just plain happy with his lot in life, whatever that may be. He has a tender side and at times. he can't help but show it. He is NOT James Bond, but he too is a man every reader can fall in love with.
Berkley Sensation author Karen Kay says that her ideal man is never cruel. "It takes real strength to be understanding and refuse to budge from one's ideals when it would be way too easy to lash out and be cruel.

Bestselling author Maureen Child says, "A real man has to have a good sense of humor ... the most important thing for me."

Probably the most "Beta" hero I've ever written is Shane Graham in my western historical, Abducted at the Altar. In fact, the original story had been rejected because he was too "beta", too willing to help the heroine. I sat on that story for a while, but loved it so much, that I reworked his character a little and was able to sell it to my publisher. He's a great hero, strong when he needed to be strong, a true reluctant caring man-next-door type for my feisty heroine, Dorie McCabe.

Another great example of Beta Man is the hero, Danny Tucker in Erin McCarthy's book, Heiress for Hire. It's a story that has stayed with me for a long time and recently became a 2007 Rita nominee.

A Beta Man is often:

Boy next-door type
Shows his emotions
A man worth knowing and loving

Traits he shares with an Alpha Man:
Often misunderstood
Sexually appealing
Comfortable in his own skin
Next up on the blog: The "Why's" of your character. How to develop your character's traits before you write a single word.
This weekend I'll be doing copyedits for my upcoming western romance, Bodine's Bounty and I'll be volunteering my time with Operation Gratitude - helping to assemble and fill boxes of essentials in mass numbers for our US soldiers around the globe. It'll be a busy time. Wishing you a great weekend!
We'll be picking a winner for my Between the CEO's Sheets contest on June 30th. You still have time! Good luck and always:
Happy Reading!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Getting Summer Write - Traits of the VERY Alpha Male

I love writing alpha males. As you might know now, the new Desires are chock full of them! Women love a take-charge kind of man. Reese Fortune from Fortunes Vengeful Groom and Wade Beaumont from Between the CEO's Sheets fit that bill perfectly.

If you don't believe me, think about Janet Evanovich's lastest - Lean, Mean Thirteen, the 13th book in the series. Why does that book enchant, intrigue and satisfy us? Well, for a romance lover, it's not only the humor and crazy situations, but it's the well-defined male characters we all want to know more about. And Stephanie Plum is one lucky lady. She has TWO Alpha Males in love with her.

Ranger is the extreme of an alpha male. You don't get much more alpha than him. In fact, he's soooo cool, calm and collected, he's almost not human. We never see his emotions. I really hope they don't make a movie or TV series about these characters. No one man can fill Ranger's shoes. There isn't a man out there THAT COOL. He's off the charts and that's why we love him.

Joe Morelli, the other Alpha male character is a cop. He's soooo HOT. Women love him because he's a loyal guy. He's got principles. He's good at his job. He knows what he wants. He was once a BAD BOY, but he's matured now. And we love that about him too. Again, no actor can fill his shoes. Our expectations are Joe are that high.

So to pinpoint :What are Alpha Male characteristics?

In control of his emotions
Shows his vulnerable side rarely
Sexually appealing
The man every woman wants

Senior Mills and Boon Editor, Linda Fildew says this: "We
believe readers seek out the Alpha Male as a fantasy, an
embodiment of heroic qualities, including the positive use
of power." She goes on to say, "Above all, remember that he is the man every woman wants. If you are in love with your hero, then your reader will be too."

For me he's James Bond in a business suit, or wearing a Glock and keeping the streets of Everytown, USA safe, or the ultimate gladiator 0r the bad boy next door or my favorite, the rough, tough cowboy. He's what we call a REAL MAN. And we all know we love real men, right?
Coming next on the blog:
Nice Guys Don't Finish Last - the Beta Man.
BETWEEN THE CEO'S SHEETS -available now in bookstores. Also available as an Ebook or online at or Amazon. com
Enter my Summer Romance Junkies contest.
And there's still some time to enter my

Monday, June 25, 2007

Characters Don't Live in a Vacuum/Layering

Summer Write!
Here's some more on Characters and why we love/hate them.

What is it about your favorite characters that draw you to them? Are they flamboyant or loners or happy-go-lucky or stick-in-the-muds? Are they Debbie Downers or Susie Sunshine? On a different note, who is the villain who stayed with you long after you finished the book? Did you hate or fear him? Did he provoke emotions in you? If he did, the writer did her job.

Do the hero/heroine have character quirks, are they flawed somewhat in a way that has the reader rooting for and caring about them? Make your main characters three-dimensional. Give them traits that ring true. Know them as much as you can BEFORE writing them. No one is perfect in real life and in romance writing, often it’s the physical or emotional flaws that create the story or conflict. At the very least, their flaws will enhance the story. If we don’t care about the characters, we don’t care about the story.

Characters don’t exist in a vacuum. They are a product of their environment. Character traits are influenced by culture, location, occupation and the historical period. Their behavior, attitudes, expressiveness, philosophy are all influenced by their background. What religion are they? How much education did they receive? What is their social standing? And so on. All this greatly influences WHO they are.

Characters need to be consistent, but that doesn’t mean they are stereotypes or predicable. Their CORE personality defines them. If they deviate from their CORE, they may come across as incredible (and I mean unbelievable), their actions won’t make sense. The reader won’t buy the situation you’ve put them in, making you as a writer lose credibility. I once got a rejection where my editor didn’t buy what my hero was doing. It was inconsistent to the character I had created. When building a character, start with broad strokes, make them true and consistent then fill in the details; those character quirks, qualities of emotion, values and attitudes that make them interesting, unique and special.

In essence, LAYER your character, giving him or her many facets to their personality. Often you have to actually write many chapters, for me it’s usually 3, before you can really get a good handle on the characters. You’ll know the basics about them, but perhaps you won’t know some of the more interesting things that make the story work.

When I was writing Between the CEO's Sheets, my June Desire, I knew something about Gina and Wade's relationship in the past. I knew they'd fallen in love nine years prior and I knew that Wade didn't fall in love easily. Gina had broken his heart, but Wade wasn't a man to show his emotions. So when they reconnected nine years later, he had revenge and payback on his mind. I also knew he felt bitterness toward his father for abandoning his family in favor of building his beloved company, Triple B. But I had to tie those emotions into his story with Gina in order to really see who he was.

Gina came to Wade out of desperation. She'd held a secret for many years and sacrificed her love of Wade to protect him all those years ago. Gina was a character who'd been knocked down a few times in her life. She had the courage to stand up again and again. I knew Gina had to be really strong to be a match for Wade. So, here we have a heroine who'd had a great life and future taken away from her as a young woman when her parents died. She'd been forced to leave a wonderful man behind and start a new life for herself in another city. Gina had a fear of the water and I knew, no matter how much Wade wanted revenge, he would never prey on those fears. Instead, I knew that Wade had to be the one to help her overcome them. Even when Wade thinks the worst of Gina, he would not take ill advantage of her.

I knew Wade was stubborn. He'd felt he'd been wronged in life. He was a good brother, a hard-driving but fair businessman. He was a man who protected his heart. He grew up hating his father. The more I wrote about him, the more I understood him. He came to life and became a great character- one we'd seen first in Bunking Down with the Boss as Sam's brother. I

If you think of the movie, Jerry McGuire -- Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger have a great first meet in the airport, where she is frantically looking for her young son, who had wandered off. What woman can’t relate to that feeling? Immediately we like her. Immediately we feel her unease. She can't find her son. This is a great device to gain instant sympathy for a character. Put them in a precarious situation from the get-go. Make it fun, or serious, or dangerous, but make it INTERESTING .

This movie is a great example of characterization. Jerry McGuire is a hero, a good guy, but he’s so flawed that the heroine can’t help but see it. There’s this great line where she says to her disapproving sister, “I love him for the man he wants to be. I love him for the man he almost is.” The movie was successful for many reasons, but the one reason it stands out is that there is character growth. We see a change in Tom Cruise’s character, it’s gradual, and it really doesn’t hit home until the very end of the story when he achieves his goal, both monetarily and professionally, but feels at a complete loss because he has no one to share his success with. He goes home and lays his heart on the line to his wife.(something he was never able to do in the past) In this movie, we see facets of each character which clearly defines them. Layering the characters, makes them believeable.

We are the sum total of all of our life's experiences, whether good or bad. We are molded by events in our lives. Some authors write a character trait list. This is a good exercise to see how well you know the characters. For me, I write three chapters and the characters tell me who they are. They speak to me. It's best put this way:Anne Lamott, in her book, “Bird by Bird” says of characters: “Just don’t pretend to know more about your characters than they do, because you don’t. Stay open to them. It’s teatime and all the dolls are at the table. Listen. It’s that simple. "

Next up on the blog: Traits of the very Alpha Male.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Getting Summer Write! What Makes a Memorable Book?

Summer Write!


Have you ever asked yourself what makes a memorable book, story or movie? Why did you get into it? What compelled you to keep reading or watching the screen? If you had to label one thing that you remembered most about a story or movie, what would that be?

For me, and for most editors and readers -- it's the characters. Great characterization brings interest and intrigue. It's hard to enjoy a movie or read a book if you can't relate to the main characters. It's even harder if they aren't sympathetic meaning they are someone that you want to learn more about, someone you can sympathize with, someone that will hold your interest. If you don't find them worthy or redeemable in some way, you won't care about them.

So does that mean that you have to make your characters perfect in every way? Do you have to sugar coat them to make them sympathetic? The answer is a big resounding NO. In fact, perfect characters make for boring reads. The reason we root for and cheer on a character, is because they're FLAWED and we can sympathize with them. Or if not, we can certainly understand them even if we don't think much of them in the beginning.

The movies that have stuck with me, have done so because the story told was compelling. And why? Because the hero wasn't such a nice guy. He wasn't a man you'd expect. Same with the heroine. Think of "An Officer and a Gentlemen". Richard Gere's character came with major baggage. He didn't get along with his fellow boot-campers. He was a loner, a man who needed no one. He had issues with his father. Didn't believe in commitment. He was selfish in the beginning, but mostly, HE WAS INTERESTING. And in some ways, we could relate to him, though we didn't necessarily like him.

Think of Patrick Swayze's character, "Johnny" in Dirty Dancing. He thought Baby was a spoiled rich daddy's girl. He wasn't nice to her. He was every mother's nightmare for their daughter. But we saw his layered character, when he comes to the aid of his friend. We saw a softer side of him, and gradually, we came to understand him. Baby on the other hand, never really took risks. She was truly "daddy's little girl." She was the good daughter, the one her parents could always count on. She was the "baby." Until she met Johnny. Then everything in her life changed. She began to take risks, to come of age, to become the woman she was meant to be. WE LIKED HER, because at one time in our lives, maybe, we were just like her. Or maybe, we remember falling for the unattainable dangerous boy who'd never be within our grasp. Whatever the reason, both of these characters STUCK with us. We knew them. We liked them. We rooted for them.

In Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, we see a really ditzy character in our heroine. From way back in the first book, (she's up to #13 now) Stephanie captures our imagination. She gets herself in big trouble every time, finds herself chosing between two hot sexy boyfriends, Joe and Ranger. She's got a nutty grandmother, a pet hamster named Rex who is her best friend, a flamboyant partner, ex-hooker, Lula. With the Plum series, I was a late bloomer, not having read them from the beginning, yet after reading the first paragraph on the first page, I knew I'd read the entire series. Couldn't wait to catch up. AND I turned my sister and best friend onto the series.


Stephanie Plum was different than any character I've ever read. A female bounty hunter in the heart of New Jersey? She was witty and silly and fun. Being a romantic at heart, I couldn't pass up the chance to see who Stephanie would end up with. Would it be Joe Morelli or Ranger? I still want to know -- but I do have a favorite. Do you?

What character stuck with you for days or weeks or months after you've read the book or seen the movie? Ask yourself why that is.

Tune in on Tuesday for: Characters Don't Exist in a Vacuum/ Layering your Characters.

And be sure to enter my Summer Contest at Romance Junkies:

Good News: Between the CEO'S Sheet's hits #7 on Borders/Waldenbooks list in June! Bunking Down with the Boss is nominated for the National Reader's Choice Award!

Friday, June 22, 2007


Unique and Useful Tips! (I love these - Martha would be proud)

Reheat Pizza: Heat up leftover pizza in a non-stick skillet on top of the stove, set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

Easy Deviled Eggs: Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing thoroughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done. Easy clean up.

Expanding Frosting: (I like this one a lot! Especially the lower calorie count)

When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar/calories per serving.

Reheating refrigerated bread: To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated, place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

Newspaper weeds away: Start putting Wet Newspapers around your plants. Work the nutrients in your soil. Put layers of wet newspapers around the plants overlapping as you go. Cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic fabrics but they will not get through wet newspapers. {NOTE if you are ever stuck and have to sleep outside and it is cold, put newspapers inside your clothes The layers of paper trap air and act as insulation.

Broken Glass: Use a dry cotton ball to pick up little broken pieces of Glass- the fibers catch ones you can't see!

No More Mosquitoes: Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

Squirrel Away!: To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant and the squirrels won't come near it.

Flexible vacuum: To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to the end of your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

Reducing Static Cling: Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and - voila - static is gone.

Measuring Cups: Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill it with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry the cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

Foggy Windshield? : Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

Reopening envelope: If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include Something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Voila! It unseals easily.

Conditioner: Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's a lot cheaper Than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair...

Goodbye Fruit Flies: To get rid of pesky fruit flies, take a small glass, fill it 1/2" With Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dishwashing liquid, mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

Get Rid of Ants: Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it "home," & can't digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works & you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

Take baby powder to the beach: Keep a small bottle of baby powder in your beach bag. When you're ready to leave the beach sprinkle yourself and kids with the powder and the sand will slide right off your skin.

Great tips aren't they? I hope you can use many of these. I know I will!

Enter my contest at Romance Junkies:

Coming next Monday on Charlene's Blog - Getting Summer Write! Writing hints, tips and ways to sell your story.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


I'm not really a TV junkie, but this past season I have to admit I've been hooked on some of the shows. I had an auto-watch list that went far beyond my usual television viewing. Every night, I'd relish sitting down in front of the tube, after a long day at the computer and vegging-out. My list is long, but here's a few: Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy, Dancing with Stars, American Idol, Lost, What About Brian, Smallville, Deal or No Deal, Numbers. The reality shows were a must -- must know, must be able to speak about the contestants the next day with friends, must have a vote. And I miss game shows from my youth, so I'd watch everything new like 1 vs 100 and Identity. I'd gotten lost in TV land and now that all the shows are off or airing repeats - I don't watch repeats, probably for the same reason I don't eat leftovers, now I'm filling my nights when I'm not editing or reading emails with the other joys of my life.

Top Ten List:

Playing cards with Hubby. (new game Phase Ten is awesome!)
Playing tennis
Reading books in one sitting (or two - if my vision blurs)
Taking evening walks
Doing pilates
Talking to friends
Working for Operation Gratitude (see last post)
Arranging my photo albums
Dreaming up new story plots
Getting to bed earlier

That's my Top Ten list of Non-TV Nights.
Can you relate?