Guess what? I like to write.

I’m not sure how many people are interested in this, but hey, I’m going to write about it anyway!

Basically, this post is all about writing and what books have inspired me/helped me with my own scripts, novels, and stories.

As I’ve mentioned before (I think) I’ve been a writer ever since I was a kid, scribbling stories in my school notebooks. I still get a rush of excitement when I hold a blank notebook in my hands, whether it’s a fancy moleskin or one from the dollar store. I never leave the house without a notebook, although these days I do a lot of writing on my iPhone. My handwriting has gotten atrocious, but I’ve written several scripts and the beginnings to several books on these basic notebooks from MUJI. My BF and I have a whole shelf devoted to writing notebooks… because that’s how we roll.

Yes, that is a rotary phone. No, I don’t use it!

Whenever I sit down to start a new novel, I start with CHARACTER WORK. I think that my character building is a really strong talent I have (dialogue, eh, I’m working on it ha) and these books really help. One of the reasons I decided to self-pub a romance novel is because, as a lover of the genre, I was SO tired of the lack of good characters! I started my first novel Kiss of Ice around 2011, when self-pub was really taking off. And boy, what a revelation! I was VERY over the typical virginal, spineless, Pollyanna (and yes, lily white) heroines that traditional publishers were pushing. Nowadays there’s a lot more variety in plots AND characters. Thank Jeebus for the Self-Pub revolution!

Anyway, here are my go-to writer’s guides:

45 MASTER CHARACTERS by Victoria Schmidt

This book is amazing. It basically breaks down the traditional male and female journeys and archetypes. This is the first book I grab when I’m starting a new story. BTW, Annata is a ‘father’s daughter’ and Christophe is a ‘fool’ (in the best possible way of course), if you’re wondering 🙂

SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder

When in doubt, beat it out! Blake Snyder (RIP) created a great beat sheet that’s downloadable. Making a beat sheet is helpful for novels or scripts. Also, beating out your plot really helps to uncover any plot holes and problems that will kill your second act. There’s been a bit of a ‘Save the Cat’ backlash, because some people feel that beats don’t always feel organic, and I think that argument has some validity. However, if you need help with a slow second act, beats are a great way to get over the hump. This is the book I usually crack when I’m plotting out a new story.

THE ANATOMY OF STORY by John Truby and STORY by Robert McKee

Not for the faint of heart. These books are really in-depth and hardcore, but very helpful! John Truby also has a great interview on Youtube about screenwriting. I crack these books when I run into an inevitable plot problem.

ON WRITING by Stephen King

Love this book. Full of anecdotes and also musings on the writer’s journey.

I have more books on my writer’s self-help shelf but those are the ones that have had the most impact. Those are the ones I go back to, time and time again.

Now, on to the books that have inspired me. Not only do I lurve them, but these books have a lot to do with the way I approach my romance stories. All of them have an aspect of storytelling that I’ve incorporated in my own novels.

WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte

Can you tell I was an honors English student? I think every nerdy teenage girl has a spot in her heart for this book, but the thing that really excites me about WH is that it was the first book that told a story out of sync, using flash forwards and flashbacks. I am a sucker for an epic story that spans over many years. Also, I love that Cathy and Heathcliff are two complex, difficult, unlikeable characters. No Pollyannas here! Lastly, this book uses setting as motif in a really great way. The wildness of the moors seeps into all aspects of the novel. Ugh, so good!

THE VELVET SAGA by Jude Deveraux

I loved Jude Deveraux when I was growing up. I think I read my first romance of hers (Sweet Liar) when I was 10 or 11, and I was hooked. The Velvet Saga (Velvet Promise, Highland Velvet, Velvet Song, and Velvet Angel) was one of the first series in the romance genre to feature siblings. Each book is a self-contained story, with an overarching plot that connects all four books. It’s a little dated, but still masterful, let me tell ya.

A HEART SO WILD by Johanna Lindsay

This book was the second romance novel I ever read. Crazy right? (Especially that I still remember that…) This book has it all – a strong heroine, a complicated hero, and a great plot. I’m not a huge Johanna Lindsay fan, but this book still sticks with me, years later. And it’s a MC/IR romance – Chandos, the hero, is Native American. I miss these old Western historicals. I wonder if they’ll ever come back into fashion? My sister still has our tattered copy of this book.

BLACK GIRL LOST by Donald Goinesblackgirllost

This ‘forbidden’ paperback was passed around by my friends in middle school, and wow, what a book. Violence, street life, and romance combined. Gritty and unforgettable.

Here are some more recent (self-published and traditional) books that have inspired me by being awesome and expanding the bounds of what ‘Romance’ can be:

UNDENIABLE series by Madeline Sheehan

HARD ROCK HARLOTS series by Kendall Grey

MAIDEN LANE series by Elizabeth Hoyt

LEAVE ME BREATHLESS by Cherrie Lynn

50 SHADES OF JUNGLE FEVER by L.V. Lewis

 

So there you have it. A little glimpse inside my working mind… I hope it was helpful to anyone who’s interested in writing, or just wanted to know what my writing process is.

My keep-shelf. I used to love me some historical romance.

Okay, enough procrastinating. Back to writing Stone Cold Knockout (coming late May/early June 2014!).

Advertisements

KISS OF ICE Review Milestone

Six months ago, I quietly self-published a BWWM romance novel about a hard-assed, business-minded woman named Annata and the rich, laid-back man named Christophe who loves her… and was amazed that people actually bought it!

So, Kiss of Ice just hit 100 ratings on Goodreads. No big deal, right? WRONG.

It’s so awesome!

Thanks to all of YOU who’ve left ratings-good, bad, or indifferent.

Kiss of Ice was my first novel and it really makes me happy to see how well it’s been received. I can’t please everyone (and, let’s be real, I only really strive to appease myself when I write) but I’m happy to please some of the readers, some of the time. 🙂

I’m still hovering right below 80 reviews on Amazon, which is also really amazing. I may not be the biggest breakout author in my genre, but I never expected the level of success I’ve attained. It makes me thankful for the fans I’ve earned, and it makes me want to work harder to get more fans. Gotta have goals, right?

On this bright sunny spring day, I’m feeling pretty good. How about you?

 

New BWWM Series Synopsis

So excited to talk about a new series I have planned for Winter 2014!

a_devil_named_dixon_logoDirty Rotten Dixons is a suspense/romance series, containing dark situations, humor, and violence, with a smoking hot romance at the center. Heroine Beatrice has always been drawn to bad boy Daniel Dixon, a smooth-talking chameleon from a family of criminals, ever since they were young. When they meet in NYC after not seeing each other for years, Beatrice has the rug pulled out from under her safe and secure life. She can’t resist Danny, but is Danny really ready to reveal his true devilish self to the woman he’s always loved?

Dirty Rotten Dixons, a 2-3 book series, will follow Trix and Danny’s story as they laugh, love, and shoot their way to their happily-ever-after. Prison escapes, island retreats, high-profile trials, dastardly villains, and lots of flying bullets await them, and readers, in this wild and crazily romantic tale.

Here’s the synopsis for A Devil Named Dixon (Dirty Rotten Dixons #1):

What happens when a good girl goes bad? A bad boy just might fall in love.

Say the name Dixon in the tiny town of Crestwood, Kentucky, and everyone knows who you’re talking about – the white trash family of criminals that resides on the edge of town. Eldest brother Darby is serving a life sentence. Middle child Daniel and the youngest Derek look like they’ll be headed up the creek as well, in good time.

Say the name Fontaine in the tiny town of Crestwood, Kentucky, and a completely different picture comes to mind – church bells, bible study, and passionate sermons from a pulpit. Beatrice ‘Trixie’ Fontaine is the minister’s daughter, a golden girl with a good head on her shoulders. Except when it comes to Daniel Dixon, that is.

Daniel Dixon isn’t content to live out the life that his family has planned for him. He’s got an altogether different sort of life mapped out for he and his younger brother… but that doesn’t mean it’s on the right side of the law.
Now all grown up and living in New York City, Beatrice Fontaine doesn’t know it, but their worlds are about to collide in a major way. This good girl is about to find out just how much she likes being bad…

Later this week, I’ll reveal the cover for A Devil Named Dixon so stay tuned 🙂

New Cover Reveal!

Hey guys!

So I’ve been taking a bit of a break from writing and catching up on all the reading I’ve been putting off for the past few months. I’ve read at least ten books since finishing Kiss of Fire. Whew! However, my down period is coming to an end. Both Stone Cold Knockout and Kiss of Life are in the forefront of my mind now, and I hope to have SCK out by the end of May. Woot!

Anyway, in other news, my (other) new series, Dirty Rotten Dixons, is also floating to the forefront. The first book is slated for a holiday release, probably in November. Super excited about this BWWM series!

And guess what?devil_blackheart

Next week I’ll be revealing the cover and synopsis for A Devil Named Dixon (Dirty Rotten Dixons #1)!

Yay!

Then it’ll be up on Goodreads to add as a To-Read!

Yay!

So much exciting news.

Lastly, I want to thank all of YOU for reading/buying/reviewing Kiss of Fire. I love the response it’s been getting. Toni and her fireman hold a special place in my heart, that’s for sure. I’m so happy you guys have been enjoying the St. James Family series so far. Not to get mushy, but I’ve always been a writer, since I was a kid writing fan fiction about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (lol), so it’s so amazing to finally be able to write and connect with readers. So grateful!

Okay, I think that’s enough for today. Happy Thursday!