When I am doing my first draft, I just want to get the story down. I don’t think too much about themes or tropes (I’ll explain that later)…I just listen to the people in my head and put them in situations that will reveal their character and conflict. I usually get stuck about halfway through, though, and when I do, it’s a good time for me to reflect on “What is this story about?” That’s where themes and tropes come in.
This week on the Blog Hop, A.S. Fenichel says:
Lately I’ve been thinking about the story themes that turn me on and inspire me. List your top ten favorite story or plot themes. It can be anything from Dragons to friends to lovers.
Themes are an underlying thread that ties the whole story together. Finding home or good vs. evil or revenge. A trope is the structure the story hangs on. In romance, tropes might be marriage of convenience, friends to lovers, or enemies to lovers.
As a writer, my two favourite tropes are friends to lovers and second chance. I’m not a big fan of insta-lust or insta-love (though if handled well can be great) and prefer a slowly growing realization between my characters. Both of these tropes work really well for that. In my upcoming book, I use both, as my hero and heroine were married very young, broke up, and then thirty years later become friends and work toward a happy ever after.
I read a lot of Regency romance, and in those I love a marriage of convenience trope. It suits the time period, when women were expected to marry and couldn’t always wait to find their soulmate. These often end up being friends to lovers, too, because a sound marriage usually starts with affection.
Other tropes I like to read include forced proximity (can be location or activity, such as career), fake relationship (as long as the two main characters are in it together and aren’t faking out the other), and opposites attract (I think you get this one).
What about you? When you think about your reading, are you drawn to specific type of story? Leave a comment below, then hop over to Leslie Hachtel.
In case you missed it last week, Leslie has a new book available for preorder from Amazon!
Two women. Years apart. Linked by common experience and a cottage that has survived since the Civil War.
Evelyn Smith has changed her name and is running from an abusive husband. She buys a cottage in Florida that has its own history, only to experience an attraction to the previous owner.
Rebecca Faber has rescued a Yankee soldier and fallen in love, but circumstances have forced her to marry an evil man who killed her father.
When Rebecca reaches out from the past, Evelyn finds it life changing.
And in their own times, each must find discover strength and fight to find and keep true love.
As authors, we tend to focus on sight and touch. But there are other senses that can really evoke a response. This week, Leslie Hachtel says:
Scent is very important in life and in our stories. Tell us your favorite and why it inspires you.
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
As with many things, it is hard to narrow down a favourite scent. I prefer light, herbal scents to heavier perfumes, though. Lemon, mint, and rosemary are definitely at the top of the list. But when it comes to a scent that inspires me, I think I will go with lavender.
I love to put on lavender hand cream before bed. It is soothing and relaxing, and as I always read for a lengthy period of time before going to sleep, I associate the smell with one of my favourite things! The other reason I love lavender is that is reminds me of Provence. In 2017 my husband and I took the trip of a lifetime with my parents and spent time in Belgium (where my mother was born) and the south of France. The lavender fields were just coming into bloom, but the scent was already noticeable. It is a wonderful memory.
This blog is a good reminder to me to put more scent into my writing! It can initiate very strong emotions, and is a great way to set a scene.
How about you? What scent do you prefer? I love to hear from you. Then be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel and discover her favourite scent.
Oooh, a recipe swap! Always a favourite for me on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop! Leslie Hachtel says:
It’s picnic time. Share your favorite picnic recipe.
If you joined me from Clair Brett, welcome!
I’m a big salad person, especially in the summer. And salads that can be made a head of time are great for summer picnics. Buy a bucket of chicken and bring your favourite bevy and you’re done!
Macaroni salad is always a hit. Just be sure to keep it chilled until you want to eat it, because it is definitely best served cold. Here’s my super easy homemade recipe. Even better made the day before you want to enjoy it!
Cooked macaroni (if I am making this for 5 or 6 adults, I make 4 cups uncooked macaroni and there will still be leftovers). If not using leftover pasta, be sure to run under cold water until cooled before mixing with vegetables.
Your favourite crispy vegetables, cubed or chopped (I like at least as many total cups of mixed vegetables as cooked macaroni). Suggestions:
Coloured sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow)
Carrots (I prefer these shredded in my salads)
Cherry tomatoes (halved if large)
Mix all above together. Sprinkle generously with seasoned salt or non-salt spice mix such as Mrs. Dash. Starting with one cup of Miracle Whip, stir until well coated. Add more dressing if preferred.
I’m feeling hungry! Time for a snack. But be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel next!
Jenna Da Sie has set up as FLASH FICTION challenge this week!
Write about someone who unexpectedly comes into $20,000 and include this detail: a small black notebook.
Here you go!
Gerard opened his small black notebook, flattened the pages at the correct entry, and licked the end of his pencil.
Yuck. Why did people do that? He thought about it as he smacked his lips and tongue trying to get the taste out of his mouth. Come to think of it, he’d only ever seen it on TV or in movies. Maybe no one really did it in real life.
On the pristine page, in precise letters, he wrote Devlin J. - $20,000 – paid in full followed by the date. It gave him a lovely thrill to see it there in black and white. He hadn’t expected to collect that fee so easily or so quickly. Usually it took multiple attempts to convince his clients that non-payment was a non-option. Devlin, on the other hand, had handed over the twenty grand with barely a whimper.
Maybe I should have asked for more. Gerard prided himself on knowing exactly how much his clients could afford, and how hard to push to get what he wanted. His clients might disagree—no one liked to be blackmailed, after all—but it was just business.
And a very fine business it was.
Now I’m wondering who Gerard will blackmail next…
That was fun! Be sure to hop over to Leslie Hachtel and see what she came up with.
We have been enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures this last week in Northern British Columbia. And by enjoying I mean wallowing, bathing, and soaking in the sunshine. We had a lovely winter, but nothing beats those first hot days of spring. That being said, this week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, Leslie Hachtel asks:
What is your favorite spring flower and why? Is it the scent? A memory?
If you joined me from A.S. Fenichel, welcome!
The first sign of spring where I live is the appearance of pussy willows. While not the most vibrant of blooms, these tough, furry, grey blossoms are a sure indicator the weather is warming up.
When it comes to cultivated flowers, hardy bulbs like crocuses are next. While they have no scent, they are definitely cheery and bright!
Because these are the first to appear, they rank as my favourite spring flowers. However, I am always thrilled when my clematis begins to sprout. While it will be months before we see the blooms fully open, knowing this rapid-growing vine is ready to grow is one of my great delights.
What about you? What are your favourite spring flowers? Feel free to share below, then hop over to the instigator of this topic, Leslie Hachtel.
When the last time you took a stroll around my website (other than this blog, of course)? You might be interested to see some changes, especially here. I'll give you a minute to go look...
What do you think? I love these new covers! I'm going to be celebrating by giving away a copy of each book. But you need to be a subscriber to my newsletter to end. You can do that here. I hope you'll join us!
I’m afraid I’m going to cheat a little this week. A.S. Fenichel has assigned us FLASH FICTION:
About 500 words and the prompt is “first kiss.” Give us a short and sexy first kiss.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
Usually I love writing flash fiction, but I’ve got a lot of things on the go right now and am going to cut myself a little slack. But I’m definitely sharing a first kiss scene! This is from Richly Deserved, my new release. Enjoy!
Claudia straightened, her attention still absorbed by the painting, her face softly lit by the single bulb clipped to the easel, her profile outlined against the wall of windows.
“Come here.” Titus took her arm and urged her toward the middle of the room, snagging one of the barstools as he went.
“What are you doing?” she asked but went willingly enough. He set down the stool, placed his hands on her shoulders and pressed her onto it.
“I’m going to draw you.”
“Don’t be silly.” She shifted as if to stand, and he held her down. Even in his furor to get a pencil and paper, he kept his touch gentle.
“I have to. I’ve been thinking about it for days. And now, with the moonlight streaming in…” He gestured to the nearly full moon glowing outside the window and she lifted her chin to look where he pointed. “Don’t move!” he said urgently. He wanted that exact tilt of her jaw, the angle of her head over her shoulder.
She ignored him and turned to look at him again. “I am not going to model for you, Titus.”
Desperation to create welled up inside of him, fierce and strong in a way he rarely experienced. He didn’t have time to argue.
So, he kissed her.
His palms on her cheeks, he pressed his mouth softly to hers, doing his best to wordlessly convey his need. She gripped his wrists but as he deepened the kiss her touch grew slack. Her mouth opened, welcoming him in, and her hands slid up his arms to his chest, and then wrapped around his neck.
He’d wanted to distract her, bewilder her so she’d sit for him without complaint. Instead, the heat of her passion was like a backdraft, the fire he’d set roaring out to consume him.
He dragged his mouth away reluctantly. Her eyelids fluttered open, and raw satisfaction filled his chest. Her gaze was dreamy and dazed. She didn’t resist when he took her chin in his fingertips and placed her exactly where he wanted her.
“Look at the moon,” he said. “And think about me.”
He went to get his sketchpad.
What do you think? I’d love to read your comments. Then, hop over to Jenna Da Sie and see what she wrote.
So, I'm doing a thing on Thursday.
I'm joining author Kellie Coates Gilbert in her Facebook group, She's Reading, to talk about Richly Deserved, writing, reading, and more! There may even be giveaways...
We'll be going live at 4pm Pacific. Why not join her group now and come along for the ride?
I also did a thing yesterday (Monday). I did a live author event in the Seasoned Romance Salon, also on Facebook. If you aren't a member, you can join here, and watch the video. I also have a few giveaways that are open until 7pm Eastern today (Tuesday, April 13).
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, we are pulling back the curtain to reveal the mystery of how we write. Clair Brett commands:
Give us a glimpse into your “process.” Are you a pantser/plotter/hybrid, night owl writer/early morning, etc.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
There are as many ways to write a book as there are books. Even an author with dozens of novels under her belt will find that her process adapts and changes from story to story.
That being said, it is widely believed there are two main types of writers. “Pantsters” write by the seat of their pants. They just sit down and start typing and see what happens. “Plotters” were accountants in another life, and map out their books like a general planning a military campaign. In reality, I think most writers are a mix of the two, and that goes for me as well. I used to do a lot more plotting, working with spreadsheets that listed each scene. But I found that most of my stories veered off in unexpected ways at somewhere between the 30% and 50% mark. I learned to embrace that. After all, if I don’t know what’s going to happen, then the reader must be surprised, too!
Up until 2020, I did all my writing in the evenings and on weekends, since I was working fulltime. Since then, I have switched to writing in the mornings. Not too early – I still like to ease into my day with coffee and a few minutes of yoga. Then in the afternoons I work on editing projects (either my own or freelance for other authors), and in the evening tidy up a few things that might have been missed over the day. Of course, it’s not quite that cut and dried, but that’s the general gist.
One other thing I do as part of my writing day is read. More authors that I would have guessed don’t read much, especially when they are writing their own book. They say they are too easily influenced by the tone of the author they are reading, and worry it will creep into their own story. For me, reading throughout the day is a must-do stress reliever.
Now, hop on over to A.S. Fenichel and see what her writing process is like!
It's been just over a week since Richly Deserved was released! Thanks to everyone who purchased their copy already. If you haven't, this is what readers are saying about it:
"I enjoy Margriet's stories for the layered details that hold the reader close while cheering for the hero's and heroine's, as well as the secondary characters' successes." (Writer with a View - 5 Stars)
"...parts of this story will have you in tears. I highly recommend this book..." (Penny L - 5 Stars)
"Excellent writing, intriguing and relatable characters, engaging and original plot!" (Carolinexlt - 5 Stars)
Read it for yourself - find it at your favourite e-retailer here!
Do you like a little demon with your regency romance?
Then you'll adore A. S. Fenichel's Demon Hunters series! Now with sleek new covers! Read more about it here!
As a reader, romance will always be my first choice. That's because it encompasses so many different worlds - suspense, paranormal, historical - and I am guaranteed a happy ending. But I also enjoy reading many other genres, including sci-fi, fantasy and mystery. In fact, mysteries were my first love, which is partly why my most recent releases have each had a mysterious subplot.
This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, I set the topic:
Buried treasure. Ghosts. Locked room murders. What is your favourite kind of mystery story? Or do you avoid those altogether?
Like many girls my age, I cut my reading teeth on Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and the Bobbsey Twins. I also remember the Cherry Ames series, about a nurse who wound up solving mysteries in the course of her various duties. By high school I was reading Dick Francis mysteries as fast as they came out, and had also discovered Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. Then there are the classic mystery authors - Agatha Christie, Rex Stout and Dorothy L. Sayers. All of these contributed to my love of the genre.
Murder mysteries are usually my favourites. Combine those with a locked door and I’m turning the pages fast and furious. But it darn well better make logical sense once it is explained – no supernatural appearances or clues hidden by an irritating narrator!
I do, however, especially love when the mystery has a romance attached. Spenser is one of my favourites because of his love for Susan, and the relationship between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane is one of the most complex love stories ever told.
What about you? Do you like mysteries? What are your favourites? Let me know in the comments, and then hop over to Clair Brett to see what she thinks. And don't forget to sign up for Clair's newsletter here, so you don't miss any of her news!
I live in a part of the world where the four seasons are clear and distinct. The weather, however, doesn’t always line up with the dates very well! This week on the Romance Writers Weekly Blog Hop, A.S. Fenichel says:
Spring is here in the US. What’s your favorite thing about the season? If you can, share a Spring related memory.
If you joined me from Leslie Hachtel, welcome!
This is my view as I write this blog. In Northern British Columbia, early spring is pretty much late winter. We don’t dare plant anything delicate out of doors until the third weekend in May. To me, that is the true first day of spring!
We sometimes joke that we have five seasons here. Spring, summer, autumn, winter and The Melt. That’s the horrible in-between weeks when the snow is melting but nothing is green yet. The only good thing about The Melt is that it means winter is over!
But once we're truly in spring it is lovely. My husband and I always made a big deal of the first sunny, warm day. Our tradition is to play the Gypsy Kings Greatest Hits nice and loud, have a Corona and lime, and simply bask in the sun. Well, that’s what I do. He gets his joy from doing yard work, while I appreciate his efforts.
Going back to when our children were young, my favourite spring memory is sitting in the front yard watching my toddler son shovelling snow from the lawn onto the driveway to help it melt faster, and splashing in puddles in his yellow slicker and little red boots. Soon I am hoping we’ll be able to have the same fun with our grandchildren!
What about you? What’s your best memory of spring? I’d love to hear from you. Then be sure to hop over to Clair Brett for her thoughts on spring.