(I think this is a good clue that we aren't at Walmart.)
Maybe you're a foodie? How does this look. (Yes, I am a chocoholic.)
Has anyone guessed yet? Still in the food department. One of these chefs actually does sing Italian opera while working. We did purchase food while listening to him, so maybe it is an effective sales method.
Okay, none of these clues is a dead giveaway. So I'll give you some actual shots of the store itself.
First, one of the sales floors. Beneath it, the Egyptian Stairway.
Some interesting facts about this store: They have a dress code to enter. (Yes, they are willing to be picky about taking your money.) You can't wear spaghetti straps. You can't wear a backpack on your back. And you can't shop in groups of more than four (which ruled out our family shopping together). Also, there are places in the store where you aren't allowed to take photos.
So, who knows what store this is?
As many of you may remember, we've been renovating a bathroom in our house for about a million years. We don't use it much, and so consequently we sometimes have spiders decide to take up residence in the sink. I typically name them, because...well, why not? I thought this season we were going to be spiderless and then suddenly, Rigel appeared. He seemed a bit tiny, but over the last few weeks he's come into his own and grown. Another little bitty spider appeared, and I thought Rigel might eat him. So did he apparently, and so he made his home in a roll of toilet paper I had forgotten to put on the spindle (spiders are a lot like cats--leave anything out for five minutes and they claim it). I named him Spot, because that's what he looks like when I peer into his little home, which seems to get more elaborate every day. A snack here, an entree there. Next he'll be doing cooking shows in there ala Rachel Ray, at which point I will definitely put my foot down. One must draw the line somewhere, you know?
Then there's Lester, the hopping spider who's taken residence above the medicine cabinet. He rushes down every time I enter the bathroom, as if he honestly thinks I'm going to be his next meal. Good luck with that, Tiny. I swear his multiple little shoulders sag when he realizes it's just me, and I can hear itty bitty expletives as he trudges all the way back up the mirror, although whether those expressions of disgust are meant for me or just because the mirror makes his butt look big, I'm honestly not sure.
Obviously, my imagination runs overtime, a hazard of the writing trade, I'm sure. However, it's helped me tremendously, especially in trying paint a picture of the setting of a story. I have to narrow down the details before I can get them across to readers. Sure, my bathroom looks like an average almost-remodeled bathroom with some spiders hanging out in it on the surface, but what if when I close the door those little guys have conversations? Maybe they play poker on Friday nights, or hang out on the window sill and scope birds. Do they get together to have little Spiderville city council meetings? What about mayoral elections? Does the biggest spider eat the rest and that's it,or do they go to the polls like we do? It's these kinds of thoughts that help me create the worlds in which my characters dwell.
Setting can be a very important element in a story, especially dystopian ones or those that are set in the future. I usually try to keep my settings simple; however, in my fantasy and paranormals, that can be difficult to do. Some readers actually read stories more for the world created than anything else. In my Dragon Song series, to develop the Time Before I had to imagine a place where humans and the Dragon Kind lived together but rarely interacted until the story dictated they needed to. There are villages among the mountains and valleys, but also forests, and in my latest Dragon Song entry, a cave will play a pivotal role.
One of the most fun settings I have had the pleasure of creating is the village of damned souls in Seducing Gracie. It appears once every five years out of a fog so that a suitable sacrifice can be found for its mayor. It's filled with bloodthirsty townspeople that appear absolutely normal on the surface. No one, including Gracie, who stumbles upon the town while searching for clues to a kidnapping, realizes the town's deadly secret. The fun part was trying to capture the right blend of the outwardly normal appearance of the town with the menacing undercurrent of the evil that lurked there.
For my latest story, I'm going all out setting-wise and having a blast! It's going to be a whole new world for the humans that inhabit planet earth in a near future...literally. I'm still working out the details, but suffice it to say, I'm really digging creating lush desert oases and industrial wastelands and the tribes of people who live there.
What about you? What kinds of settings do you like to read about or create? What inspires these settings? Does the setting come first or the story?
Feel free to share in the comments section. In the meantime, I have to go answer the door. It looks like someone in Spiderville ordered pizza!
Thanks for stopping by Maggie! Tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me! I’m a native Islander. For those who don’t follow hockey, an Islander is someone born and raised on Long Island in NY. I’ve been married to the same man for 24 years and we have 4 awesome children who think I rock. They also think I’m crazy, so I have to wonder if they’re afraid to say I don’t rock. They sure freak out if I start counting to 3. I don’t know what they think I’ll do if I ever get to 3. It’s never happened. We have three rescued Italian greyhounds that creep me out because they constantly stare at me. Sometimes they whine when they stare. I don’t know why.
The Chase is On is your current release, tell us about the story.
Here’s a blurb: Midwife Kayla Morgan decides to fulfill her dream of becoming a mother. However, there is a slight snag. She is newly divorced and has no desire to take the marriage path again. What’s a gal to do? Why, ask her childhood friend, Chase McBride, to help her, of course. No intimacy, no strings, and with today’s technology the former Wall Street tycoon can be vacationing in Maui when she conceives. It sounds simple, except for one small detail. Chase, who has harbored a secret love for Kayla for years, sees an opportunity he can’t pass up. If there was ever a way to get Kayla to see him as a man and not the boy she grew up with, this is it. He just hopes he doesn’t wind up losing her in the process.
*I can personally say Chase is yummy hero material. I love friends to lover romances, and The Chase is On is so gooood.*
What inspired you to write Kayla and Chase’s story?
The short answer is, I have no idea J I just picked up a pen one day, grabbed one of my kids’ marble composition notebooks and started writing this story in my head. But over the years I’ve discovered it’s more than that. I always wanted to be an OB/GYN, so it was no shock to anyone who knew me my very first book was about a midwife.
What was the submission process like for you?
This is a tough question, because I first submitted The Chase is On twelve years ago, but having never gone to college or taken any sort of writing class, I think I broke every writing rule in the book. It took me 12 years and eight books later to learn my craft enough to go back and fix the original draft. Even then, and Esmerelda will tell you, I still had to overhaul the second half of the book. But I love the way it turned out. I think in total I submitted The Chase is On eight times.
*A perfect example of perseverance prevailing. Go you!*
What are a few favorite lines from the book?
I love the opening line: Panic spread through her like an allergic reaction, so Kayla Morgan did the only thing a sensible woman in her position could do. She tackled Chase McBride. *I loved this opening line too.*
And this one was always one of my favorites: she wore a strapless red gown, which Kayla swore was held up by sheer willpower alone. *Another awesome line!*
What is your favorite scene?
I have two actually. The first being when Chase takes Kayla out to a fancy restaurant in NYC. It’s funny (well, I think so anyway) sweet with a little bit of spice thrown in. But I also love the scene where Kayla helps a fourteen year old girl delivery her baby.
What was the editing process like?
The editing process was surprisingly easy, but I hear that’s not always the case, so I think I got off easy with this one.
Let’s dive into you as a writer a little. Are you a plotter, pantser or a bit of both?
I’m a pantser, all the way. I do sometimes write out plot points (basically a word or two) just so I don’t lose track or forget something, but that’s about it.
Can you give us a hint into your current project?
Right now I’m very excited to be working on a small town series set on Eastern Long Island in NY. The first book of the series, Heart in a Sling, a humorous contemporary with a little bit of spice to it.
* Nanabooboo! I’ve read some of this, and it is fantastic!*
What is the best and worst part of writing?
The best part is finally being able to get the voices out of my head. I love the feeling I get when I’m on a roll and a scene or chapter is going so well it scares me. The worst is writer’s block. I suffered an almost 8 year bout and it was awful. When I finally got back into writing, I felt whole again.
Where do you like to write?
Anyplace where it’s quiet with a beautiful view. I rarely listen to music while I write, although songs have inspired me. I tend to stare out into space and looking at something pleasing to the eye helps me focus. Squirrels are especially entertaining.
What novel (any genre) do you wish you would have written? (I know what mine is, lol)
Hmm, I wonder if I can guess J I wish I had the imagination J.K. Rowlings had with the Harry Potter books. I think I’ve read all seven books at least five times each.
*Tee hee. You took the words right out of my mouth.*
How many hours do you try to write a week?
It varies. I have a pretty awesome life for a writer. I work at home and the work I do usually doesn’t take more than an hour or two a day. I do have four kids, but for the most part they’re old enough to take care of themselves. So I can write anywhere from 3 – 8 hours a day if I wanted.
*That is awesome! I’m waiting for my kids to go back to school, lol.*
Now let’s get personal, lol. Bring it! lol
Favorite TV show?
I don’t watch much TV, but I never miss an episode of Bones. At one point in my life I wanted to be a doctor. Well, that clearly didn’t work out (damn you chemistry class!) so I like the medical side of it. Plus, it’s funny. I like funny.
*Lurve me some Booth!*
Hmm, I’m not a movie buff, but if I had to pick one, I’d say The Princess Bride with Roxanne and Groundhog’s Day as runners up.
*Who doesn’t know where the words ‘As you wish’ comes from the moment it’s spoken? Dreamy sigh. Now I have to dig out my DVD. Thanks Maggie.*
Other than romance, what other genres do you read?
Is Harry Potter its own genre yet? J I like mysteries and thrillers.
*Actually according to On Demand, Harry Potter is its own genre, lol. Under genre it says Harry Potter.*
Ocean or Mountains?
Ocean. I love the shore, so living on an island is awesome for me.
*I’m an ocean gal myself.*
Do you like to cook?
I hate to cook lol But I’m good at it, damn it, so they make me do it. Looking back, I should’ve burned everything. I do love to bake though. No wonder my kids love me, but my scale doesn’t.
*I hate to cook too. Burning everything sounds like a plan to me, lol*
Is chocolate a dish? No, I suppose not. Okay, I’m going to be graphic here because I’m hungry and haven’t cooked dinner yet. Filet Mignon, smothered in mushrooms and onions with steamed asparagus and chicken (yes, I know, gauche) flavored rice.
*Not only do I have to dig out my copy of The Princess Bride, but now I’m hungry. You’re killing me here!*
Most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
I can tell you the time I was most horrified. When hubby and I made a ‘home video’ and then watched it. It was promptly erased. That’s all I’m saying J
*Bahahahaha!! OMG. I just spit out my drink. Freaking priceless.*
Thanks so much for stopping by, Maggie! It was great having you here.
Thanks so much for having me Esmerelda. You’ve been awesome. If I ever lose you as a critique partner I will die!! And if that puts undue pressure on you to keep me, well…I’m okay with that J
*You know the sentiment is returned, my dear. Smooches.*
Want to win a copy of The Chase is On?? Yes, you say. Leave a comment to be entered in one of two random drawings. Maggie has generously offered one commenter a signed print copy of The Chase is On and one e-book version to another.
Buy Link: http://ebooks.carinapress.com/B7FD8A4D-73F4-4319-AE22-C57B0903151F/10/134/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=E7E2A65D-DF9B-421F-81BF-DBC2C1F1EFBC
One of the things I took away from the recent Romance Writer's of America conference in New York City was that I need to venture out of my comfort zone. Writing what's easy for me is all well and good, but I should challenge myself. To be better. To try new things. To branch out. To reach out.
I love the term "darkly erotic". To me it conjures up steamy, sensual images and twisted, dangerous needs. A hero in doubt, perhaps. A heroine who's strong but may not realize it. A different tone, a different language even, than what I'm used to writing.
So here's my question. Okay, two questions.
Have you ever written in different sub-genres with different tones? Do you ever have a problem with your original tone slipping into your current manuscript? Can you tell I'm concerned with that happening?
And readers, do you mind if an author you like writes something different from what you're used to reading? Like light and dark? Like contemporary and paranormal? Would you rather the author used different pen names so you'd be more aware of the difference or wouldn't that matter?
I'm excited about trying something new. I'm going to start with a novella-length story to start with. And don't worry that I'm giving up my hot contemporary romances. I love them too much.
So any words of wisdom from writers or readers would be greatly appreciated as I delve into this darkly erotic tale.
Description: Editors want to buy spicy-hot romance stories now more than ever before. How do you do it? In this class we will discuss all aspects of sexual tension and sensuality and how they relate to the developing romance in your story. You'll learn tips for successfully building sexual tension over the course of the hero and heroine's relationship from first glance, through climax, to happily ever after. Several examples will be used to illustrate different nuances of hot romantic chemistry and how to employ them in your own story. Learn how to avoid clichés and use sexiness in fresh new ways. Strengthening sexual tension will take your story from ho-hum to so hot and delicious your reader can't put it down. We'll do exercises for hands-on learning. (Please be aware this course contains explicit and frank discussions of sexuality.)
Using the five senses more effectively
First love scene
How to rebuild sexual tension after sex
Why point of view is important
Combining physical attraction and emotion
Differences between romance and erotic romance
Revising to make a sensual romance manuscript spicy or erotic
Multimedia examples and exercises
Journalist Emma Portland would do anything to save her career, even go undercover at the 31st Annual GalaxyCon in search of a story. Emma thinks she’s hit pay dirt when she meets Luke Evans, a bestselling scifi author whose readers have turned against him. She has no problem getting close to the sexy writer to get the scoop on his downfall. Except the more time she spends with Luke, the more she has a different kind of exposé in mind…
Luke can’t believe he’s found the one woman at GalaxyCon who hasn’t heard of him and can look that hot in a bikini. For the first time he’s opening up about himself…and the secret that torpedoed his writing career. Too bad his former fans are out for blood—and out to sabotage his budding relationship with Emma.
But amidst rival reporters, eager fanboys and overzealous role-players, it’s Emma’s secret that may put the brakes on their sizzling attraction for good…
I absolutely love this story and had so much fun writing it. I can't wait for it to release on August 1st with Carina Press. Here is a quick excerpt:“He attacked you because of a character?”
The waif of a woman strode around the furry, narrowed her hazel eyes and put her hands on her hips. Luke sucked in a harsh breath. She was gorgeous. At first glance she’d pass for any other costume wearing woman attending the conventions. Their costumes and heavy makeup hid their actual appearance. Nothing was false about what she wore, except maybe the wig. Was her hair brown or something lighter, redder?
It didn’t matter. What captivated him was the pale, delicate skin displayed for his pleasure. The metal bra was a cup too small, thrusting her generous breasts forward. He clenched his hands against the urge to trace the enticing flesh.
Whoa, boy. Back down.
Yeah, right. How could he with her dressed like that? His gaze lowered to the bikini bottoms with the long burgundy fabric that hung in front. Riding low on her hips, the fabric accentuated the hourglass curve of her waist and showed off her perfect belly button. Luke swallowed. Ah hell. He was in trouble.
Not once had he mixed business with pleasure at a networking event. The possibility of falling for someone obsessed over an imaginary world had worried him. He needed someone grounded in reality, someone to come back to when he emerged from Farmen. Yet one small encounter with this spitfire princess with the most inviting plump lips—and he was rethinking his viewpoint. Not good.
“Hello! McFly.” She snapped her fingers in front of his face.
He blinked. “What?”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head, mumbling something about geeks and women. He blinked again. Had he heard that correctly? He didn’t know what to do with a woman?
Oh hell no. Against his better judgment or not, he knew exactly what he wanted to do with her.
Thanks for letting me share!!!
Abby (aka Esmerelda Bishop's contemporary half)
But really, isn't pizza one of those perfect foods?
Okay, so some of the typical pizza toppings, like pepperoni and sausage, aren't the healthiest. But there are so many choices of toppings these days, you can pretty much have any kind of pizza you want. You can put practically any veggie on a pizza. Fruit too. Thin crust. Thick crust. Cheese. Extra cheese. Coffee is probably the only other order that has as many options.
And actually pizza is easy to make at home too, so I don't always order out. (Although I will admit that when I walk in to pick up my order - I did mention the shop is about a two minute walk? - I don't even have to give my name. Can you tell I've been there a few times??) Sometimes when I make them at home, I'll even by the individual size crusts so that everyone can build their own pizzas.
So what's your favorite pizza? Our tastes are pretty varied in our household, but we all agree on Hawaiian pizza. There's something about the sweetness of the pineapple with the pizza sauce that's a treat for my taste buds.
How about you?
FLAUNT IT - Coming Aug 30th
Can there ever be too much sex in a romance novel? I've been asking myself this question all week as I work on a hot little scene that pretty much came out of nowhere (Yay for us pantsers!). Now, I'm not talking about an erotic romance novel here. Yes, there's tons of sex in those, and rightly so. I'm talking just your everyday romance book -- a sensual romance, if you will. At what point does the book cross the line and fall over into the erotic category? Is it language? Is it what they do? Well, I'll let you in on what I learned:
According to a couple different agents that I met and talked to (and it's funny how they both had the same, exact answer), to be considered an erotic romance, your novel has to have "extras". Extra people, extra props, extra, um, activities, etc. Language (yes, those words) was not a factor, really. Without all those "extras", what you really have is a sensual romance. Interesting, huh? And it's a concept I really like. As an author, I can teeter on that line of being either sensual or erotic. I've written both, and as a matter of fact, one of my current WIP's (works in progress) is very definitely erotic romance and the other is more on the sensual side. So, I'm getting the best of both worlds!
What about you? As a reader, which do you prefer? Do you like those "extras"? Do they have to be there for you? Or will a hot and steamy sensual romance do the trick? If you're an author, which way do you prefer to write? Can't wait to hear your thoughts!
If anyone has been to a week-long conference like RWA's National, you know how immersed you get, in the business of publishing, in the creativity of characters and story, in the craft of writing. You're surrounded by people just as focused as you are. The ideas are flying and inspiration is everywhere.
Then, at the end of a train ride that ended up being more like 9 hours than 8, you're back in the real world...
Surrounded by all those people you love who don't have stories in their heads. Surrounded by all those chores that didn't go away while you were gone. Even if you were lucky, like I was, and most of the chores were kept up while you were gone, there's still a suitcase full of dirty clothes and people who want to talk about things like replacing siding on the house and what to bring to the picnic this afternoon.
The real world. Where you have to find that balance again between life and writing. There are workshops for that, but I've found the most important thing is to take yourself seriously. You have to believe your writing time is worth it before anyone else will. And to enjoy the picnic and the fireworks and then close the office door when it's your writing time.
I'll put together my conference thoughts in another post, but wanted to share a couple pictures of the awesome view from the Marriott Marquis in Times Square. Our room was on the 40th floor and had a view of the river. The pictures through the sealed windows don't do the view justice, but just to give you a taste...
Oh, and I came back to an awesome blurb for my 2nd Paolo's Playhouse story, Taking Chances, scheduled right now for late fall! Can't wait to share it with you.
Have a great day!
Nothing else will solve your dilemma of what-the-hell-do-I-do-now better than just sitting in your chair and figuring it out. Maybe you do that with pen and paper, making notes, scribbling down ideas and thoughts. Or maybe you listen to music, play a game of solitaire, or do what works for me -- brainstorm with other author friends. I love tossing ideas back and forth like that. Great ideas have been born and lots of problems have been solved that way for me.
The trick is to do what works for you. But just DO IT. Books don't write themselves. Crap typed on the computer can be fixed, but a blank page? Not so much. Get something, anything, down and work on it, over and over if you have to. One foot in front of the other, one word on the screen at a time, and you'll make progress. Promise.
Off to take my own advice and get busy on today's word count. Hope everyone is have a great summer so far -- Stay cool!!