Today's topic on Romance Writers Weekly comes from – me!
Telling stories is as old as the first time a caveman came back from a hunt and told about the big one that got away. Every family and relationship has a story or two that gets told at every get-together. What’s that story in your family? What’s that tale that everyone loves to hear told over and over again?
Oral histories are precious and easily lost. Even if you don't consider yourself a writer, I encourage you to jot down some of your family favourites in a computer document or journal. I believe it is so important for the next generation to be connected to those that came before.
Every family has those special stories, some going back generations. For example, my father's ancestor settled in Nova Scotia in the 1700's. Legend has it that he married an Indian woman, and those of us with dark hair and dark eyes are throwbacks to her. This doesn't take into the account the multitude of other genes that have contributed to us from other members of the family, of course, which is what makes it a legend, I guess!
Most of our family's favourite stories make us laugh so hard tears come to our eyes at every telling. On my mother's side, her family emigrated to Canada from Belgium after World War 2. My grandmother's family was from quite well off, and hadn't been too happy about her moving across the globe to be the wife of a farmer. Their first house was small and primitive – but across the street was a large, lovely, well-kept home. So my grandmother took a photo of that and sent it to her mother, with the implication that was their house. I love that story!
My own mother is a creative, talented woman with a daring, adventurous side. She is often the subject of our family stories. Like the time she glued pearl beads to my young brothers' ears to play a trick on our conservative grandmother. Or, in the 1950's, how she smuggled a chipmunk to Belgium on an airplane. The story my own children love best is the one where she was snowshoeing along a road and a snowplow approached. She thought it would be fun to stand under that nice, soft spray of snow arcing off the blade of the blow. Yeah – it's not soft. It's hard, packed tight by momentum. It knocked her flat on her back and all my dad could see of her was the tips of her snowshoes and a mound of snow. My kids wrote lyrics to the tune of Gramma Got Run Over by a Reindeer to memorialize their favourite Gramma story.
Be sure to visit A.S. Fenichel next for a peek at her family stories. And I'd love to hear from you, too! You're invited to tell your own funny, poignant, well-loved family story in the comments. I'll be sure to read and respond to them all.
This week on Romance Writer's Weekly, we've been asked to blog about the story behind our name, and if we have a pen name, how did we come up with it?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
I do and I don’t use a pen name. Brenda is my real first name, and Margriet is my middle name. With a little bit of detective work, anyone can discover my full name (hint – check the copyright pages of my books!). I decided not to use my last name when I published for a couple of reasons. One was that it tends to throw people off, as it's rather unusual. I didn't want to scare people away from asking for my books at the store because they didn't know how to pronounce it! The second was more for my own sake – I wanted to keep my writing life separate from my personal life. In the world of social media, it just seemed to make sense. But I think if I were starting over again, I might not do that. Being an author is so much a part of who I am that trying to keep the two separate seems unnecessary now.
When I discovered once that one of my favourite authors used a pen name, I have to say it changed how I read her books. It wasn't that I liked them less, but somehow knowing her real name made me feel like I was in on a secret. I actually felt more connected to her. It's hard to explain, and more than a little odd, I know.
The next step on your hop is Marc Stevens. I am fairly certain he has an interesting story about how he got his name (because I know a bit about his creation), so be sure to check it out. But before you leave, why not leave a comment below.
What do you think of your own name? Do you like it, or do you wish you could change it? If you could change it, what name would you pick?
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Leslie Hachtel ask:
If you could ask any author (living or dead) one question, what would it be?
Did you link to me from A.S. Fenichel's blog? If not, be sure to hop all through the links today and visit her, too!
Holy cow, this is a hard topic today! One author? One question? How the heck I am I going to narrow it down?
Years ago (before e-readers) if I wanted to discover new authors I had to – gasp! – go to the library and browse through the shelves. While romance and mystery were always my go-to genres, I also made it a personal requirement to choose one biography and one classic novel. While I usually enjoyed the biographies, the classic was often disappointing. Maybe I'm not sophisticated enough, but most "classic" novels tend to be heavy reading, with depressing subjects, and while valuable in their own right, aren't necessarily something I want to cozy up with on a Saturday night. However, it was because of this pledge to myself that I discovered "Pride and Prejudice" and the other works of Jane Austen.
I've rhapsodised about Jane Austen's brilliance in other posts. But in regards to this week's topic, I think I know what question I would ask her:
"What do you think of Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy?"
I know, it's not really a writerly topic, but wouldn't it be fun to hear her take on this?
Want to take part in this week's blog? Leave your author and question in the comments below. And then be sure to keep the hop going by clicking through to Jenna Da Sie here!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Leslie Hachtel asks:
What is the writing project you’re thinking about doing next and why?
If you joined me from Leslie's blog, welcome! It was cool to find out what her next project is!
For me, my next project is a few months away (I'm a very slow writer) but it is always there, niggling away at the back of my mind. The reason for this is that the book I am currently writing is the second in a trilogy, so my next project will be the third in the series, and ties in very closely with this one. This is the first series I have written, and keeping everything straight through all three books is proving a challenge. But since the first hasn't been published yet, I can make minor changes to it as I go along, thank goodness!
The working title for the series is "It's a Man's World." I wanted to write stories about women working in non-traditional jobs, so I created Bendixon and Sons Construction. The thing is, there are no "Sons" working there. Instead, it is a grandfather and his granddaughters. Camryn, Mattie and Jo are the Bendixon sisters. Mattie (Book 1) works with her grandfather and is a hands-on construction worker. Jo (Book 2) is a computer programmer who helps the company with state of the art residential technology. And Camryn (Book 3) is a business woman who has to step in and save the company when it is facing financial ruin.
I'm excited to be writing a series, but I am definitely finding it different than writing a stand alone. Fingers crossed I can make it all work out!
I wonder what Tracey Gee is up to? Check out her blog here! But before you go, tell me about a project you're working on. Anything at all - arts and crafts, a business goal, a new hobby or travel plans. Let's see what our future holds!
If you're reading this blog, it's probably because you're a reader. Which is also the reason I became a writer—I love to read and want to share my own stories with others. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, we're discussing our favourite books as a child or young adult.
If you joined me from Jenna Da Sie, welcome!
I started reading at a fairly early age. Not dramatically early, but by the time I was in Grade Two I was devouring Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys. Very shortly after that I moved on to Anne of Green Gables, which still holds a very special place in my heart. The other series that really influenced me as a child was Lord of the Rings. I'm pretty sure I read that around Grade 5 or 6 at the latest, and I still remember how enthralled I was by the world Tolkien built!
Looking at those books, you might be wondering how I ended up writing romance. Well, when I ponder these series, it is the personal relationships I remember best. Gilbert was my first book boyfriend. If Anne hadn't come to her senses, I was ready to step in!! And who can forget the love between Arwen and Aragorn? Even the non-romantic connections were what drew me to these characters—Anne and Matthew, Frodo and Sam. To me, stories are about people. That's what makes them memorable, and that's what I want to share with my readers.
What stories from your childhood have stuck with you? Be sure to share in the comments! And then hop on over to visit S. C. Mitchell
and see what stories he holds dear!
This week on Romance Writers Weekly, S. C. Mitchell has set us a Flash Fiction Challenge:
Give us a romantic scene to set the mood for Valentines Day.
Before I give you my scene, I have to confess something. Mr. C and I don't "do" Valentine's Day. We don't exchange cards or give gifts or go out for dinner. It's something we decided a long time ago in our marriage, and it works for us. But that's not to say we aren't romantic at other times of the year. As our kids get older and leave home, it's actually easier to find time for romance, for connecting with each other again. We love camping, and while times at the lake with the children are some of our best family memories, there is something to be said for the two of us heading off on our own. That being said, what I've written below isn't really fiction. We've had days like these. But here's my scene:
We spend the day in our boat, puttering around to different bays and backwaters, anchoring when we feel like it to take a swim in the clear, peat-coloured waters. The sun warms my skin with a gentle caress, and the rocking motion caused as other boaters skim by us is soothing. In the prow of our boat is a wide bench and I lay there, pretending to read but really just soaking in the view, the serenity, the very air.
When the sun begins its descent behind the mountains, my husband steers us back to the dock. It's a short walk to our trailer, set up in a clearing among the trees. On our way we pass other campers—a group of young men in tents, harried parents with young children drunk on freedom, a rental motorhome with its tourists shut up tight behind closed doors.
The steaks have been marinating all day. I slice onions, green peppers and mushrooms and wrap potatoes in aluminum foil. My husband gets the fire going and pours us each a glass of wine. We're in absolutely no hurry, even though we are both starving after our day in the fresh air. When the potatoes are just right, he fries up the vegetables, then slides the steaks onto the grill over the dancing flames. The sizzle and snap makes my mouth water.
We eat off plates on our knees sitting beside the fire, with a second glass of wine to complement the meal. The light is finally starting to fade on this long summer's night. We will clear up our dinner together, play a few games of crib, and then snuggle together in our comfortable bed.
It may not be lobster and roses, champagne and candlelight. But to me, time like this, time spent together with no distractions, no interruptions, in conversation or in silence, is the most romantic of all.
I love to hear what you think of my little scene above. Are you a outdoorsy person? Or would you prefer a more urban experience? Let me know. And then, be sure to hope on to A.S. Fenichel whose next on the blog hop!
Leslie Hatchel wants to know – what's my favourite romance genre and why.
I read two main genres – contemporary and historical. If I had to choose between those, I would have to say historical is my favourite. Well, today at least. Somedays it's contemporary. I'm fickle that way...
I enjoy contemporary because I can relate to the characters. I understand the world they live in, their challenges, the technology they use, the way they travel. But I love historicals for the opposite of all those reasons. I know I'm reading fiction, not a history book, but many of my favourite historical authors do intensive research, and I trust that they're getting the main facts right. I see these stories as a snippet into the way "real" people lived then. I also appreciate the slower pace of historicals. I don't mean the slower pace of the story, but the slower pace of the characters lives. When I'm writing my own contemporary stories, I often have to remind myself of the immediacy of our world. My heroine has a question for her hero – she can pick up her cell phone and text him. No need to actually see him. But where's the tension in that? With historicals, most of the action has to be face to face.
What kind of romances do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below! And then be sure to continue on to the next in our blog hop, Leslie Hatchel herself!
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome! We're having fun on Romance Writers Weekly today. Jenna Da Sie has us playing the "Would you rather?" game. Keep on reading to see what I mean.
1) Would you rather go way back in time and meet your ancestors Pre 1800’s or go way into the future and meet your great grandchildren Post 2200?
I think I would definitely want to go back in time. I'm fascinated by geneology, and someday when I have the time I want to really research my family tree. I have a pretty good record already, but more would be great. The other reason to go back in time is that at least I know there's a happy ending—in the fact that I exist! But going ahead may provide unwelcome surprises that I don't want to know about. Maybe it's the coward's way, but its just what I think.
2) Would you rather have no internet or no cell phone?
That's easy-no cell phone. The world moves so fast these days, and I think no cell phone would help slow it all down. Really-how many calls a day do you get on your phone that couldn't wait another hour or so until you got home? But the internet is another matter. I love having the world at my fingertips, especially when I'm writing. Got a quick research question-done. Can't remember how to spell a word-bam!
3) Would you rather talk like Yoda or breathe like Darth Vader?
Oh, my. I guess neither isn't an option? Then I'd have to go with Yoda. I think the breathing would drive my husband crazy after awhile.
4) Would you rather have the ability to fly or read minds?
Despite that I'm scared of heights, I think I'm going with ability to fly on this one. Birds look so free and awesome as they float on updrafts. And I think I would learn too much that I didn't want to know (see Question #1 for my reluctance to know too much) if I could read minds.
5) Would you rather have mermaids be real or unicorns be real?
Gotta go with unicorns here. In mythology, mermaids are not always the nicest creatures, causing storms and luring sailors to their deaths.
This was fun! Why not leave your choices in the comments below? But don't forget to continue on the hop. Your next stop is Dani Jace
Just a quick not that my fourth contemporary romance, NO LIFE BUT THIS, is now available!
It was released Friday, and to celebrate, all my books are on sale for only 99 cents.
Check them out here.
And don't forget, you still have time to enter to win a Kindle in the
January Preorder Super Sale & Giveaway!
25 Romance Authors are sharing their upcoming releases. And just for subscribing to our newsletters or following us on Social Media, you could win a Kindle!
Click here to enter!
Writers often talk about the voices in their head. I know this is true for me, with some characters I've written speaking louder than others. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, S. C. Mitchell asks:
Tell us about the people living in your head right now. Do an interview with the hero and/or heroine of your current work in progress or your latest release.
If you joined me from the wild and crazy, Tracey Gee, welcome! If you're starting here, be sure to follow the hop all the way through. Tracey's sure to have some interesting characters to introduce you to!
I am current working on the middle book in a trilogy. The first is sitting with a publisher waiting for a decision, which is making me anxious to get going on this story. That anxiety hasn't helped, because it's causing me to freeze at the keyboard. Also, I've never written a series before, and another issue I'm having is that the characters from the first book are still so vivid in my mind that I'm having trouble getting into the heads of my new hero and heroine. So this will be a great exercise for me!
I'll stick with the heroine of my new story. Josephine Bendixon is the youngest of three sisters. In book one she has a few scenes, and when I wrote her she was flighty and indecisive and vaguely irresponsible. Now that I'm working on her book, though, I've learned a few things. I'm going to let her tell you more about herself.
"I get where you're coming from, Brenda. I do appear a bit of a goofball to people. But that's just the shell I hide behind. All I want is to be needed. My sisters are quite a few years older than I am, and they've always looked out for me, taken care of me. I don't want to sound ungrateful, but they can't seem to get out of the habit of it. So when I offer to help them—the family business is going through a bit of a bad time—they pat me on the head (figuratively) and tell me not to worry. I want to worry! I want to be an adult they rely on. I'm twenty-four years old for pity sake!
Of course, I can be my own worst enemy. I seem to get myself into situations where I am doomed to fail. And it doesn't look good that I’m still living in my parents' house. Let me explain—I'm not living with them. They're on a cross-North America RV trip, and I'm house-sitting while they're gone. But before they left, yeah, I might have still be living at home.
Then there's Luke. He was a friend of my sister, Mattie, during high school. They've lost touch a bit now, but we run in the same circles so it wasn't unusual for me to see Luke a few times a year just by accident. Now I'm helping him with a concert in the park he's doing with his teenage music students. I get the feeling he doesn't want me around, but there's no way I can quit another project I started. My sisters already think I've got to staying power. So he's just going to have to put up with me.
If you asked my sisters, they'd say I've had a crush on Luke since I was a kid. They're wrong. Sure, he's handsome and sweet and all that, but he's never looked twice at me. I'm just Mattie's kid sister. It's kind of relaxing, actually, not to have to worry about impressing him as a woman. I can be myself around him."
Hmm…that last line is something new to me. I knew Jo didn't have the crush her sisters thought she had, but the thought that she's more "herself" around him than other guys is interesting. Interesting enough that maybe I should go do some writing…
Be sure to keep going on the hop. Visit Jenna Da Sie next!
You've still got time to win a Kindle - check out the January Preorder Super Sale & Giveaway!
25 Romance Authors are sharing their upcoming releases (including me!). Most of them are on sale for a limited time. It's just our way of thanking our loyal readers. And, just for subscribing to our newsletters of following us on Social Media, you could win a Kindle!
Click here to enter!
My next contemporary romance, No Life But This, is coming out this Friday!! Find out more about here.
And remember - pre-order for just 99 pennies!
The beginning of a new year is always a good time to reflect on where we are and where we want to be. This week on Romance Writers Weekly, Leslie Hachtel asks:
What do you love best about your writing? Like the least? And what are you doing to fix the things you don’t like?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel welcome!
Wow – these are tough questions. They've really made me think about my writing, in a way I haven't for a long time.
I'm not sure if what I love best about my writing is also what I DO best. I love that my readers say that I describe places so well they feel like they are right there with my characters. This is a good thing – but sometimes I can get caught up in those descriptions and slow down the pace of my story. After all – it's way easier to write what I can see that write what my characters are feeling.
What I like least about my writing is my plotting. I love books that have a twist, that throw you off. I have real trouble with doing that in my own writing. It's as if, because I can see the end I have to get to, I can't follow the winding road – I have to take the freeway! I am working on making life more miserable for my characters, and hopefully that will make things more interesting for my readers.
I am always learning about writing by reading. And I am a member of the Romance Writers of America so I take courses through them – although not as many as I would like to.
I'd like to welcome J.J. Devine back to the Blog Hop! It's great to have you join us this week! Discover how J.J. answered these questions by clicking here!
Check out the January Preorder Super Sale & Giveaway!
25 Romance Authors are sharing January Preorders. Most of them are on sale for a limited time. It's just our way of thanking our loyal readers.
Also - enter to win a Kindle just for subscribing
to our newsletters or following us on social media.
Just click here to enter!