“Ha.” He released her and leaving her on the couch, walked to his umbrella stand. He carried back a vase of flowers. “These roses are for you.” He leaned down, his eyes as blue as robins’ eggs.
“Thank you.” A man giving a woman flowers was not unusual. She took the vase and her lungs inflated with onrush of the sweet scent. “This is what it is to be happy. Pink and yellow roses given to me, by you.”
He looked pleased. “The colors reminded me of your blonde hair and rosy cheeks.” He was good with words. Good at keeping things vague. He pulled her jacket from her shoulders and hung it on a peg. “Hope the flowers earn me a few points.”
* * *
The interview below centers on some of my thoughts about the publishing industry.
a. Action sells! Books that have an action sequence within the first 25 pages sell better. Readers of romantic suspense look for fast paced. Plotting is critical to build a cohesive, multilayered storyline.
b. Should an author publish traditionally or self-publish? It’s okay to ride two horses at the same time. It does take longer for a novel to go from proofing to publication, but often self-pubbed books rush through edits. I submit longer books, over 40,000 words, to my publisher but self-publish novelettas (10,000 and under).
c. Is paperback coming back as opposed to paperless eBooks? My publisher focuses first on eBook sales. If the eBook doesn’t sell, neither will a print book. That is true, but the readership of romantic suspense is 60% eBook and 40% paperback. In other genres print books took an upswing. Some readers like both print and e-readers.
d. What’s good about being a writer? In our own lives, even a bit of negativity is usable. Were you ever involved with an alcoholic? That experience can help shape a character. How about being a single parent and providing for children while making ends meet? My books feature ordinary heroes and heroines. Maybe I’m in love with the everyday people who strive and work through trials. They don’t accomplish obstacles with the snap of their fingers. We live in a complex world, and my writing reflects this. That said, I do like the male protector with a strong and determined heroine. Everyday but special!
Another wonderful part of being a writer is hearing from fans. I learned on the reservation that the ancient, sacred charge of the storyteller is to beguile the time. I’m thrilled when I hear that someone has used my books to get through some particularly difficult illness either as a patient or as they sit on the sidelines while someone they love is terribly ill. It gratifies me to know that by immersing themselves in my stories, people are able to set their own lives aside and live and walk in someone else’s shoes. It tells me I’m doing a good job at the best job in the world.
e. Is bringing something new to the table with research or breaking news better than following trends relevant to your genre? I write romantic suspense, and the most popular contemporary romance subgenre is action/adventure. I feel a smart-selling author needs to have awareness of requirements within a sub-genre. Romantic suspense requires DANGER. Allow me to expand. Suspense incorporates a sense of tension throughout the book with heart-pounding action, adrenaline-inducing chase, edge of your seat thrills, life-threatening situations, and dangerous criminals. These are common elements. ROMANCE. There’s a central love story. Our lovers have to traverse nail-biting adventures before they become acquainted with each other and fall in love. As an author I weave both romance and mystery.
f. May I leave you with a word of caution? No backstory! The biggest error is over-writing and manufacturing emotions. Characters must react in the present, be honest and real. They react to their situation and to each other. Their issues are background. Life is messy. The thrill ride is dangerous, authentic, eye-widening, and passionate.
g. Tell me about your heroes in your Alliance series— Heroes in my Alliance Series are kick-ass alphas, strong as steel but gooey in the middle. Finbar Donahue from Deadly Alliance cares about his dad who suffers from COPD. Finn checks the oxygen levels in his dad’s portable oxygen generator. He puts himself between his woman and danger. In another scene he serves dinner on his porch. His mouth is perfect. From the sweet way he smiles when he sees her to the way he uses it on her body. His words tilt her world, rev her engine. “Baby, I can’t sleep. Come over here and f--- me ‘till I pass out.” With his arms, he treats her as if she’s a feather. Those same arms knock out a bad guy with a single punch. He makes her feel protected but intimidates everyone else. He’s got a sharp mind with a wicked sense of humor. He makes her laugh. He loves her hard.
h. What do you read? I read romance fiction (particularly romantic suspense) to escape the grind of my sometimes overwhelming, busy life. Like most humans who sat around the campfire and shared legends and fairytales, I’ve always enjoyed stories. Have you ever pictured your TV as a campfire experience? After watching an episode or movie, we talk about it. What did we like or not like? Good or bad, we choose how to be entertained, and it’s the same with books we read. We want to be taken out of ourselves and into the lives of the protagonists. This means we have to like them.
In this same way, writing fiction allows us to entertain people. As authors we invent characters to tell their story. Coming up with ideas, and then crafting a realistic story is challenging and fun. To captivate a reader, a story must unfold in real time with action, dialogue, and struggle all the way to the satisfying conclusion.