Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

How to write a romance… or not

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

writing a romance novel for dummiesSince I learned there was such a thing as a How to Write book, I’ve loved those suckers. Even the books that were too basic for me offered something — new advice, a fresh perspective, inspiration to write. There weren’t enough of the darn books to satisfy me.


Jill Sorenson Interviews Suzanne Brockmann, Part II – and a Giveaway!

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

They’re back! Today Suzanne Brockmann and Jill Sorenson have more to say about writing, diversity, privilege and more. If you missed Part I, you can find that here. And – after the interview, you will find details for a Sorenson/Brockmann giveaway to enter. – Lynn

(JS) I appreciate the fact that you write characters of color and embrace diversity. I live in the San Diego area, near Camp Pendleton, and it’s a very diverse community. It’s jarring for me to read a military romance (or a football romance, for another example) without characters of color. We live in an increasingly multicultural society and I want my books to reflect that.

(SB) Oh, I’m so with you, there! I, too, have a house outside of Boston, in a town that is extremely multicultural. I believe that diversity is what makes America great. We started out as a melting pot, and we still very much are. (more…)

The Beginner’s Guide to Writing New Adult

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

ladywriting So, you want to write a New Adult book? Congratulations! You’ve chosen a genre that has exploded in popularity over the past couple of years. With some hard work and a few hours of your time, you can have a great product to put out there for consumption by the masses. Your GoodReads 5-stars will skyrocket, and Harriet Klausner will sing your praises.

Best of all?

With this handy-dandy guide, it’s so simple! (more…)

Is That a Banana in Your Pocket or Are You Just Pleased to See Me?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

bananaman If you’re not a fan of sex scenes in your romance novels, then you might want to look away now, because this is a post about the language used to describe those steamy moments. So be warned that there will be several rude words and naughty phrases from here on out.

Back in the day when I used to read (and write) fanfiction, I remember reading some truly execrable sex scenes. You know the sort – the ones where you know the author was trying to burn up the screen but ended up causing widespread hilarity. There is a fine line to tread between something being hot or being funny, and while it is certainly going to be the case that one person’s turn-on is another’s unbridled amustment , I find that there are certain words and/or phrases, or an overall ‘feel’ that is guaranteed to make me giggle rather than get hot under the collar. (more…)

The Reading Effects of Writing Affects

Friday, July 26th, 2013

affected My daughter went through a phase where she dotted her i’s with little open circles that look like the ones in the Disney logo. She’d make the dots at the bottom of her exclamation points the same way. She thought it made her unique. Given that she was only eleven at the time, I just smiled, pretty certain that when she was a world famous scientist on the verge of a cure for cancer or the first female president of the United States, she’d have outgrown this silly affectation. Sure enough, at the ripe old age of fifteen, her dots are now simple points of ink on the tops of her i’s and the bottoms of her exclamation points.

Sadly, some writers demonstrate writing affectations that they don’t seem likely to outgrow any time soon. And while they may feel that these “stylistic” choices make them unique or stand out, in reality I find that they serve only to pull me out of a story quicker than the offer of a hot fudge sundae. (more…)

Mary Ann Rivers talks about loss, change, and love

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

TheStoryGuyThis week Mary Ann Rivers released her first published work, a moving novella entitled The Story Guy. Goodreads readers give it a 4.5. I thought it was almost perfect.

I know Mary Ann through twitter (every Tuesday night we watch Buffy and Tweet madly at #buffyclub). I also follow her at (Read her recent piece Love, Actually; it’s gorgeous.)

Mary Ann’s work feels deeper (which is not the same as darker) to me than much of what I read in contemporary romance. I wanted to know why she writes the way she does and asked if I could ask her for AAR. She graciously said yes.


Congratulations on getting your first work published! I have to tell you, The Story Guy doesn’t read like a debut novella. Your prose is clear and confident and your story limned with grace. Can you tell me how you got here? When did you start writing fiction?

Thank you! I am completely honored to be debuting as a writer in the romance community. I’ve read romance since about the fifth grade, which means I’ve been reading romance for twenty-eight years. When I was fifteen, I wrote in my diary that I wanted to be either famous poet or a romance novelist, and when I was eighteen, I wrote to Jude Deveraux after reading Sweet Liar, the very first hardback I had ever purchased, and she wrote back. Now we’re at the same house. So I would encourage diary writing, long-term goal setting, and letter writing in any writer, generally.


New Opportunities for Aspiring Writers – and Other News From Around the Web

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

writing ** I’d noticed recently that Avon redesigned its website, and it has also now announced the launch of Share Your Book, a place for aspiring writers to post writing samples and receive feedback from readers, editors, and other authors. It reminds me somewhat of the First Page feature at Dear Author, but since this one is sponsored by a publishing house, I suspect there will be more of a presence from editors giving comments and hopefully finding new talent. Avon has had similar features in the past, including the FanLit contest that brought us Tessa Dare, Courtney Milan, Manda Collins, Elyssa Patrick, and several other authors.  I’ll be curious to see what new voices emerge from this new feature.  More than a few writers have emerged from the self-publishing world recently, and it looks like Avon is trying to bring some of that talent on board. (more…)

What the $#&*$^?

Friday, April 12th, 2013

cuss Generally, I don’t have a problem with profanity in a book. I’m not going to run shrieking away from a character who drops the f-bomb or uses cuss words when he/she is particularly agitated. I prefer my characters to be as real as possible, and a lot of real people do swear.

However, I recently read a book where, for the first time, the characters’ use of profanity actually colored my perception of those people. Both the hero and heroine employed a range of common swear words as part of their normal speech patterns, and since the writer used third-person viewpoint, the characters also thought and viewed the world using the full spectrum of profanity. I found that I didn’t really like either the hero or heroine all that much, however, I couldn’t really put my finger on why that was. Neither one had done anything particularly unpleasant, nor did they have a tendency to whine or throw self-pity parties. They treated those around them with respect. Generally, there was no real reason I should have any opinion of them at all.

Then I realized that part of my distaste for these fictional people was their constant use of profanity. In my review (not yet posted), I likened the situation to having met a person for the first time and being a bit put-off when they used salty language without really knowing me or how I’d react. Or, perhaps more apt, how I feel about foul language in a public setting as opposed to keeping it to their personal world. (more…)

Anatomy of a Dealbreaker

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Facepalm-Bear Note: There may be spoilers of some of the various books discussed in this column. I find A books easy to recognize: basically, everything has to go right. Fs are likewise relatively straightforward. But what about the B, C, and D books, in which something has gone wrong, but not everything? The book has a solid, if cliched, plot, but the writing is catastrophic: is that a C or a D? Can a great hero and interesting writing save an unlikeable heroine? And what if, God forbid, somebody kills a dog?

The AAR staff worked to define these elements, which I call dealbreakers. We generally agreed that dealbreakers (unlike pet peeves) must be big or repetitive, must be outliers from the general quality of the book, and are by definition personal and subjective. As Blythe wrote, “Something like ‘I can’t read books with violence against animals’ or ‘I simply won’t tolerate a book with adultery.’ The nature of the term implies that it’s something that drives you nuts but might not even bother someone else at all.”

The most common dealbreakers cited by AAR Reviewers fell into four categories: characters, writing, plot, and research. (more…)

Sometimes Lavender, Sometimes Purple: A Love Affair With Adjectives and Adverbs

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

While many of you are aware of “copywriting boobos”, I tend to be more aware of descriptive information. I want it to seep into my subconscious setting the scene, showing me the action but not be a part of the story. I think of adjectives and adverbs as the structure or foundation of a novel. You know that it there and it makes an impression but it doesn’t scream out at you.

I am not saying that stark and unadorned writing doesn’t have its place, but adjectives and adverbs are wonderful things when used correctly. They take you from, “See Leigh run,” to “See exhausted but unwavering Leigh stagger wheezily to the finish line.” They change a simple black and white thought by adding vibrant color to it(albeit sometimes purple color), and crafting an image that comes alive in our mind. And having stories come alive is of critical importance.