I never considered my self a terribly social creature, but the last few months have shown me that I may have taken for granted the joy of simply sitting and talking with someone face to face. Which makes this week’s blog hop topic a little...unsettling. Leslie Hachtel asks:
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three books would you want with you and why?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
I suppose a deserted island would be the ultimate in social distancing, wouldn’t it? 😊 Not very long ago I might have yearned for a chance to read uninterrupted by other human beings, but it doesn’t seem quite as appealing right now. That being said, here’s my list:
I love this week’s topic! A.S. Fenichel asks:
How do you choose your characters’ names? Do you have a system, a book, an app or is it random?
If you joined me from Caro Kinkead, welcome!
When I was pregnant with our first child, I thought picking a name would be fun and exciting. I had no idea how stressful it would be. Names are powerful and can evoke strong emotions. If someone treated you poorly as a child, that name is often tainted for the rest of your life. If you liked a person, that name is attractive to you. When it comes to character names, I feel the same pressure.
As I’m brainstorming a new story, I’ll make lists of names, trying them on to see how they fit. But I don’t always get it right the first time. I’ve actually changed names part way through writing because the one I started with just never sat right.
For my main characters, I want names that are unique and interesting, but not so unusual they distract the reader. I think my most unusual name was Justice in WHEN TIME FALLS STILL. I saw a sign advertising Justice Motorcycle Repair and almost immediately the idea for the character popped into my head—although he had nothing to do with motorcycles. ?
Minor characters are often the hardest to name. If he or she is only appearing in a scene or two, I often don’t bother, because I don’t want the reader to think they are more important than they are. But if they are necessary to the plot, they need a name, so I have to spend some time thinking about it.No Life But This - Excerpt
Anne Bishop (if you haven’t read her, you really should. I love her The Others series) uses the names of people she knows, and then acknowledges those people in an Author’s Note. I did this for a minor character in NO LIFE BUT THIS, but am going to consider doing that more often. For my upcoming new release (sorry, no title or date yet!) I ran a contest where readers could submit their own names to be one of two minor characters. That was a fun and stress-free way to come up with a name!
When I come across a name that sparks my imagination, I make a note of it, because chances are I won’t remember it when I need it! I also scroll through baby name lists on the internet (I like the ones that are listed gender neutral so I don’t have a preconceived notion of the person it is meant for). While I’ve used random name generators (the program I write my first draft on, Scrivener, has one built it), I find those names often feel as if they are trying too hard.
In my current work in progress, I had to come up with a name for an art conservator. I was already using the name of a real museum, so I checked the staff list on their website, chose a first and a last name from two different people, and voila—a character was born!
If I am making up a name, I immediately do a Google search to see who else might have it. That has saved me some embarrassment when it turns out it already belongs to a well-known person - sometimes even one I've heard of (there was a reason it sounded good)!
Now hop on over to the originator of this topic, A.S. Fenichel , to see how she comes up with names for her characters!
I—along with a lot of other people if social media is to be believed—are taking comfort these days in re-reading and re-watching favourite books and movies. The world is in such flux that the unknown is even scarier than usual, and we are seeking out stories that we know to avoid even more uncertainty.
But even when I am not re-reading beloved favourites, I often choose books where the plot is familiar. In publishing, we use the word trope to describe well-known themes.
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, I asked my fellow members:
What is your favourite romance trope to read and/or write? Friends to Lovers? Marriage of convenience? Second chances?
As a reader, I enjoy historical romance very much. Marriage of convenience is probably my favourite trope, and it works well for stories set in the 1800’s or earlier, when women were expected to marry. But it also speaks to my favourite trope for contemporary romance—friends to lovers. In historical marriage of convenience stories, the heroine and hero must navigate from being strangers to being in a loving committed relationship. Somewhere in the middle is friendship. In contemporary stories, coming up with a credible marriage of convenience plot is almost impossible, but friends to lovers is very common and enjoyable.
As a writer, I’m not comfortable with the insta-love scenario. I prefer what might be called a slow burn, where the characters only come to realize they love each other after they have actually gotten to know each other. While friends to lovers falls into this category, I’m a big fan of writing second chance romances. This doesn’t only mean the main characters were once married, or even dated, before. It means that they are taking a second chance on love—either with someone they know, or a new person in their life.
There are many, many tropes in romance—too many to list. But if you study the stories you like best, you might find a certain theme that runs through them. I’d love to hear what your favourite trope is. Be sure to comment below! Then, hop over to Clair Brett and see what she prefers to read and write.
Inspiration comes in many forms. It can be something as small as a snippet of conversation overheard in a coffee shop, or as life changing as the first person that believes in your talent. This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, A.S. Fenichel asks:
What inspires you? Do you or did you have a mentor, parent or friend who you credit with making you the person you are today? It doesn’t have to be a person: Music, Art....
In the largest, most general sense, my inspiration as an author has come from the many, many, MANY authors I read as a child—even those whose names I can no longer remember. The simple fact that someone in a city or country far away—or even on a day long before I was born—wrote words that I was reading seemed a miracle to me (and still often does). I wanted to have that connection with a reader, too.
When it comes to what stories I write, I am mostly inspired by everyday life and the people around me. I firmly believe there is someone for everyone—those people that seem unlikeable for some (usually superficial) reason, and those who, if you could get them to admit it, believe they are unlovable for some real or imagined issue. I want to give those people the happy endings we all deserve!
As a person, I wouldn’t be who I am today without the love and support of my husband. He is always the first to read my books and will talk about his “author wife” given the slightest encouragement. I can’t say I would have given up on this publishing journey without his faith in me, but he certainly has made it a much more enjoyable ride.
I encourage you to hop over to Caro Kinkead and see what or who she credits as her inspiration.
One of my favourite blog hop topics with my Romance Writers Weekly buddies are recipe swaps. This week, Jenna Da Sie asks:
Besides the usual baking of cookies or treats, has anyone baked a really good loaf of bread? Do you have a special bread recipe from a loved one, or one that you’ve come up with yourself? Share your recipe!
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
Yeast and I have a difficult relationship. For years I avoided making anything that required it, because my efforts never seemed to have good results. But recently I’ve been trying to repair that relationship with patience and understanding (I’m too impatient to wait for the yeast to start working properly, and didn’t understand that step is necessary for success).
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog, Clair Brett asks:
What do you find most difficult about writing what you write? It could have to do with certain scenes, plotting, dialogue, whatever trips you up. How do you approach those things?
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
There are few writers that would disagree with Dorothy Parker’s famous quote: “I hate writing, I love having written.”
For me, this might be overstating things slightly. I don’t hate writing, although some days I’d rather go to the dentist. The thing is, not writing makes me fidgety and restless. So having written something is better than not writing anything.
I am most comfortable writing dialogue. I think that comes partly from creating television and radio commercials for three decades. Those advertisements are written for the ear—to be said out loud, not merely read silently. It’s the same for natural sounding dialogue—it should read like a transcription of someone’s words (without the uhms, ahs, and stutters, of course).
Because I write romance, the ending of my stories is never in doubt—there will be a happy ending. Any tension and conflict comes in how that happy ending is achieved. Rational human beings have a problem, talk things out, and come to a compromise. This does not make for a riveting romance. There have to be troubles and problems along the way, not just between the two main characters but in the world around them as well.
My biggest problem is letting my characters solve things too easily. Since I like my hero and heroine, I tend to want to fix things for them, when really I should be their worst enemy. This issue usually crops up in what many writers call “the saggy middle.” Setting up the conflict in the first third of the story is fun. Solving the conflict in the last third is satisfying. But what keeps the conflict going in the middle third? The proof is in that pudding—unless the conflict is solid and realistic and organic, the middle falls apart.
That’s where I’m at with my current work-in-progress. My hero and heroine are in their late forties, and both are gun shy about relationships. Since neither of them are idiots, it only makes sense for them to talk things out. If they do that, though, the book is over far too quickly, and with far too little drama. Luckily, they are on a quest together, so I can use that to throw obstacles in their path. I just have to make sure they don’t clamber over those obstacles too easily.
I'm off to think of a new torture for my characters. Be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie to find out what she has trouble with. After all, misery loves company LOL!
It’s Flash Fiction time again on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop! Leslie Hachtel has set the challenge:
500 words or less using the words herbs, hair and heaven.
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome! Here’s my story snippet today.
The rich, loamy soil blackened her fingernails and stained her palms. Lifting a handful to her nose, she breathed in the intoxicating scent of spring before patting the dirt into place at the base of the small rosemary shrub she’d just planted.
Using the back of her wrist to brush a strand of hair off her face—and unknowingly leaving a dark streak across her cheek—she sat back on her heels and surveyed her garden with satisfaction. It looked like little more than a neatly rowed square of earth right now, but in her mind’s eye she already saw the pea vines heavy with pods, the feather tops of carrots, the abundance of herbs she would preserve.
The long winter had been cold and stormy. Not just the weather, but her life. “Never break up in the fall,” she muttered to herself. Not that there was ever a good time to separate from the man you thought you’d live the rest of your life with. But if Hal had left her in the spring, she would have had her garden to keep her company. Instead, she’d been forced to suffer the barren and empty season trapped indoors by frigid temperatures unrelieved by the barest hint of sunshine.
Lifting her face to the sky, she let the soft breeze tease her skin and sighed. Spending the last few days in her garden hadn’t just been digging and weeding and planting. It had been the first steps in putting her life back together, in rebuilding that wreckage of her soul.
It had been heaven.
Short but (hopefully) sweet! I’d love to hear what you think. Then be sure to hop over to Jenna Da Sie https://jennadasie.com and see what that busy mom of two little ones has come up with!
I think this week’s Blog Hop is going to be more speculation than fact. I'll try not to be boring. :) Clair Brett asks:
What are your hobbies, or what is a hobby you would like to start. Why do these interest you, and how does it make you happy?
I really don’t have a hobby. I have lots of interests that may someday turn into hobbies, I suppose. But up until now life was pretty busy with working full-time and writing in the evenings so I haven't really developed anything you might formally call a hobby.
As a child I learned how to crochet, and I putzed around with that off and on for awhile, though I never really achieved anything. I also did latch-hooking and macramé (does anyone do those anymore?), as they were less fiddly. I macramed an owl wall-hanging once – I wonder where that ended up….
If I do anything currently that I could see turning into a hobby it would be photography. I love to compose the frame, work with lighting, try different angles. When we go on holidays, I usually take hundreds of shots. The beauty of digital cameras is it doesn’t cost you anything to do that. Then I enjoy going through those shots and choosing the best ones.
I would like to find something that I can do while watching TV in the evenings, especially in the winter. Since I now do my writing and publishing in the daytime, I am finding the after-dinner hours wide open. I may have to get back into crocheting this fall.
How about you? What kind of hobbies do you have? I love to hear from you in the comments, and I’ll be sure to reply to you.
Now, hop over to the instigator of this topic, Clair Brett and see what her hobbies are!
Clair's Regency romance, WINN'S FALL, on sale for a limited tie! Click here to find it on your favourite retailer!
Lord, Winthrop Burton will die on his own terms. A family curse says that will be by the time he turns thirty years old. He will not leave a young wife and a child behind like his father did to him.
When childhood friend Miss Zoe Chase returns to stay with his sister and find a husband, Winn's plans are thrown into chaos. Not only is the once gangly, awkward girl he remembers now everything that tempts him, the accidents that once plagued his life are happening to her.
He must keep her safe, but how can he do that when ravaging her is all he can consider? Or perhaps the curse isn't a curse after all.
Will Winn die, or will he fall?
We’re keeping things fun and easy on the RWW Blog Hop. After all, who needs more stress in their lives right now? This week, Leslie Hachtel asks:
If you could be any animal, which would you choose and why?
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
This is hands down a no brainer for me.
And if I had the choice, a cat in a suburban family home, spoiled and fussed over.
I could eat whenever I want and not worry about getting fat, because cats, like babies, should always be roly-poly.
I could nap all day and not wonder if I’d sleep that night, because when have you ever met a cat with insomnia?
Someone would open the door for me with just a look—and then open it again, and again, and again—whenever I wanted in or out.
Even if my family had other pets, I’d be the leader of the pack. Not because I cared, but because I didn’t! Indifference would be my default attitude.
What about you? Which animal would you like to be? Leave me a comment, then hop over to Jenna Da Sie and see what creature she’d like to be.
Writing is the ultimate stay at home job. Especially since the internet came into being, there’s very little reason to leave the comfort of your writing spot. This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, A.S. Fenichel asks:
Tell us about where you write, edit or create. Do you have a special place? Do you need a cup of tea or coffee? Set the writer scene for your writing time.
Up until this year, my writing place was on the couch in our living room, using a lap desk my son made in woodworking class. But when I left my career in television production to spend more time on my writing, I set up this little corner of the family room as my office. My new routine means I can write first thing in the morning, so I start with a cup of coffee (although it’s usually cold before I remember to drink it) and a bottle of water close by. I put a playlist on Spotify (lately it’s been a station that plays Delhi 2 Dublin and like-sounding tracks) and after a quick check of emails and social media (I can’t write until I make sure there’s no business I need to take care of) I get my daily quota in.
I am by no means particular about where I write, though, and often find a change of scenery can bounce the creativity to a new level. My second favourite place to write is in the backyard next to your pond, but I’ve written on our boat, in our holiday trailer, beside rivers, and overlooking golf courses. To me, that’s one of the best things about being a writer – the ability to do it wherever you like!
What about you? Is your creativity portable, or do you need a special place for it? I’d love to hear about it, so leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to reply. Then, hop on to Elizabeth Schechter and see what her writing space is like!