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Monthly Archives: November 2011

First Kiss as First Impression

I finished writing the first kiss in my current WIP (work-in-progress). For my first draft, I usually don’t mess around. I get the words out and move on and then fix it up during revisions. For some reason, I couldn’t do that this time. For me, the first kiss between the hero and heroine is pretty important. Sometimes, it’s the first time they act on their chemistry, other times, it’s a test to see if the chemistry is really there.

I finished the kiss scene and knew it was bad. When I mentioned it to my critique partner, her response was, “Oh, poor Elizabeth [heroine].” It took a minute for me to realize that she thought I meant the kiss was bad. I explained that it wasn’t the kiss that was lacking, but the scene itself; it didn’t hold the importance I thought it should. The conflict and emotional intensity weren’t there.

I couldn’t leave the scene as it was, so I went back and at least tried to fix it before going on. I know I made it better, but it’s still not quite “there.” It will be eventually, probably during long and torturous revisions. The experience got me to thinking about first kisses.

Personally, I think first kisses can make or break a budding romance. In one of my other manuscripts, my heroine, Quinn, goes out on a few dates and is bothered by men who can’t kiss. One kisses like a lizard, jabbing his tongue in and out. As she says, she doesn’t have time to teach a man to kiss. I’m in agreement (not that it matters, since I’m married, but you know what I mean).

I dated a guy in high school who was a great guy. He was really nice, had a job, a car, and treated me well. I don’t remember our first kiss, which isn’t a good sign. But he wasn’t a good kisser. He wasn’t a horrible kisser either; he was a sloppy kisser. Like he had too much spit in his mouth and couldn’t figure out what to do with it. It wasn’t the reason I ultimately broke up with him, but it was a factor.

In searching for a clip to include about kissing, I found lots and lots of first kisses that went well, which I’ll save for another day, since they’re so much fun. I did find this one, that covers the issue of bad kisses.

From Sex and the City:

Every time I watch it, I get grossed out. The man’s like a dog with his tongue all over her face. What’s worse, she goes back for more. I didn’t watch Sex and the City when it aired, so maybe this guy had some fabulous traits that this clip doesn’t reflect. I suppose anything is possible.

What do you think? Can you come back from a bad first kiss? I almost want to write a scene with a bad first kiss between a hero and heroine to see how it will play out.

Friday Favorites – New Authors

Still traveling, with limited access to the Internet. Instead of a mash-up of awesome links this week, I’m going to talk about a new favorite author: Inez Kelley.

(standard disclaimer: No one gave me any books or asked me to write about these. The books were purchased with my own money.)

To be honest, I’d never heard of Ms. Kelley before Carina Press opened its doors. I saw her name on one of their erotica books, but didn’t think much of it. At the time, I didn’t own an e-reader, and I don’t like to read on my computer. In addition, I don’t generally read erotica (although that might be because I haven’t found a good one yet).

Fast forward to last June. I finally bought myself a Kindle. I immediately went to Amazon to get some books. I searched by publisher because I knew Carina would have some good books at reasonable prices. I found Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley. It was released back in January 2011, so it wasn’t a new release, but I liked the blurb:

John Murphy is tormented by nightmares. A bestselling young-adult author, he writes the ultimate fantasy: stories where good always triumphs. He knows better. His past has shown him the worst in people—and in himself. When he moves next door to the sexy, vibrant Livvy—a woman completely unlike his usual one-night stands—he’s driven to explore every curve of her delicious body.

Pastry chef Livvy knows that giving in to the temptation that is John Murphy won’t lead to anything permanent, but she deserves a passionate summer fling. John discovers she’s as sweet as the confections she bakes while Livvy slowly unravels his secrets. But what will happen when she uncovers them all? (taken from the Carina Press web site)

I’m not sure what I expected. I mean the blurb tells you the book has a tormented hero. I guess I thought it would be a fluffier read than it was. It wasn’t dark and depressing, but man, it grabbed me so hard I couldn’t stop reading. John is one of those heroes that stayed with me for months. Months after I finished that book, I wanted more of John.

Last week, I read Turn It Up. This book by Ms. Kelley is a lighter read. It’s a friends-turned-lovers book. What amazed me about this book is that the author manages to create sexual tension and keep it intense throughout the book. Because of a bet, the hero and heroine don’t actually have sex. Few authors can sustain such a high level of sexual tension without boring the reader.

After reading these two books, I know I’ll definitely keep my eye out for other books by Inez Kelley.

How about you? Who was the last new-to-you author that you picked up? What did you like best about the book?

Thankful

Since I’m traveling for the holiday, I’m going to keep this one simple. It’s Thanksgiving and here’s what I’m most thankful for this year:

1. My kids (this year and every year) – Although I work part-time, I work from home, so I’m always around for my kids. I never thought this was the life I would want, but even when they make me want to pull my hair out (or theirs), I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m also thankful that they are healthy, smart, and pretty well-behaved.

2. My husband – we bicker, we fight, but we’ve known each other for over 22 years. He was my best friend before we got married, and my life would have a gaping hole without him.

3. Chicago-North RWA – this is my local RWA chapter and this group of women rocks. We are a critique group, and I’ve learned so much as a writer from them, it’s scary. We’re getting ready for our conference this spring, so if you’re in the area, check us out. Chicago Spring Fling

4. My Macbook Air – For a year and a half, I wrote on a netbook because I got it free. I love my iMac that I work on at home, but most of my writing time is out of the house. Using the netbook saved me time and increased my productivity over using pen and paper, but I hated that netbook. My husband worked an extra side job this fall and gave me the money to get the Macbook. It’s pretty.

5. Fran Black – She’s my agent. I just signed with her in October and we’ve been working on revisions for a book that wouldn’t let me go. The thing I like most about Fran is that she loves my book. Isn’t that what every writer wants?

6. Warm weather – Right after Thanksgiving with the in-laws in Tennessee, we’re headed to Florida because my daughter’s cheerleading squad made it to nationals for competition. We decided to turn it into a family vacation. I’m from Chicago — I’ll take any bit of warmth I can get in December.

7. Books, books, books – electronic, paperback, you name it, I love it. 

8. DVR – There are many conveniences I depend on daily, but this is one I probably enjoy the most. No more having to remember to check to see if there’s a new episode and set the timer, or worse, having to put in a VHS tape (remember those days?) The downside is that I find myself being roped into at least trying way more shows than I ever would’ve in the past.

9. Diet Coke – I’ve been a Diet Coke addict since about the age of 12. Over the past year, however, I’ve linked the worsening of my migraines to aspartame. I switched to Diet Coke with Splenda, which is not as good as the original, but it’ll do. There are times when I still drink the real thing, and as long as I don’t over-do it, I’m okay. And it’s still my favorite form of caffeine.

10. Time to write – Ever since I decided to take a stab at writing, I’ve always had to “find the time.” I already had a gazillion responsibilities, so squeezing writing time in had to happen around everything else. I trained myself to think about plot points while driving or doing other mundane tasks so that as soon as I sat down to write (while the kids were in swim lessons or tae kwon do or football/cheerleading), I was ready to actually get words on the paper. I created that routine and now I look for every spare moment to write because I love it so much.

How about you? What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

(note: I’m on the road today, so I won’t be able to read comments until late tonight, but I will respond. Thanks)

Pick-Up Lines – the Good, the Bad, and the Truly Disgusting

I think most women have been assaulted by some bad pick-up lines in their lives. Fortunately, I’m in the minority. I’ve been married for 16 years, and prior to that, I didn’t do much dating. Don’t get me wrong, if a guy asked me out, I almost always said yes. I was broke and a date meant a free dinner and a movie. (Don’t judge me — it was just a date.) But I was too busy going to school and working to worry much about dating.

Anyway, I can’t recall any pick-up lines, good, bad, or disgusting. Maybe they were just so bad, I blocked them from memory. I’ve seen them in movies and on TV, but in real life? Not so much.

I met my husband at the beginning of my senior year of high school. I worked at a hot dog stand and he came in for food one night. While waiting for his food, he asked, “Do you want to join the Marines?”

I laughed and informed him I planned to go to college, but thanks anyway. At the time, I didn’t consider this a pick-up line, but now, looking back and knowing my husband, it totally was. It had my co-worker flitting up to the counter to take his recruiter’s business card. She had zero interest in enlisting in the military, so I guess it worked.

Since I write about single women finding love, whether they’re looking for it or not, I wanted to see if I could find some interesting lines. Here’s a clip that highlights some really bad ones.

Warning: Don’t drink while watching.

I don’t know how the guys managed to stay straight-faced while asking a woman if she farted. Farts? Boogers? Toilet water? Can any guy really think this will interest a woman?

I write contemporary romance. I can’t see one of my heroes ever using farts as a pick-up line. It’s just not sexy. Maybe if I wrote about pre-teen boys. I’m sure my son would find that humorous. But I don’t think even he would consider using that as a means to get a girl.

What’s the worst pick-up line you’ve ever heard? How about any really good lines?

Friday Favorites – Writing Advice and Hot Men

I’ve decided that since Friday is a day for fun (it’s my day off – I work Sun through Thurs), I will post my favorite things. Today, I’d like to do a mash-up of some of the best blogs I’ve read this week. I read a lot of blogs, some for work, most for fun. I’ve found a lot of interesting people and ideas from reading blogs. Information is good, but if it’s delivered with a laugh, it’s better.

Asrai Devin wrote about writing rules and when to let them go. As much of a stickler for rules as I am with my kids and my everyday life, I don’t worry about rules when I write. I tend to just go with what works and what feels right, especially for a first draft. That being said, I usually have MAJOR revisions afterwards.

My next link comes from Mary Stella at The Bettyverse. If you’re unfamiliar with the Betties, you are missing out. They are a fabulous group of free-thinking, supportive women, all brought together by the wonderful Lani Diane Rich (AKA Lucy March). In this post, Mary talks about Writing what you know and how that can develop into an interesting storyline.

Tawna Fenske is a fellow Betty and romance author (check out her book Making Waves - fun read). I read her blog daily because not only am I guaranteed a dirty joke and a smile, but she also makes some great analogies. This one is about how critique partners are like steel wool.

Since I’ve talked about romance heroes a couple of times this week, here’s Kara Flathouse’s take on Kissing Toads.

For an extra smile, Emma Burcart talks about Hot Dads. I don’t know about you, but I don’t mind getting older as long as the actors are still this hot.

Finally, no fun romance blog would be complete without some shirtless men. Jillian Dodd offers us some eye candy.

Have a great weekend and try not to drool on the keyboard. :P

Who Do You Love?

Now that I’ve given you a bit of earworm for the day… I have to tell you that I absolutely love Seeley Booth from Bones. I watch a lot of TV, but over the years, most of the shows I’ve followed have been 9pm shows, with the occasional one that started at 8pm CST. Long story short = kids.

Bones is one of the shows that when it first aired, I really wanted to watch it. It looked interesting and right up my alley (FBI and dead bodies), but alas, it had an early time slot so it wasn’t going to happen. When TNT started airing reruns, I fell in love. My husband bought me the first 3 seasons, and I watched them all back-to-back. I couldn’t get enough. Then, I got a DVR (best invention ever) so I don’t have to wait.

Tonight will be the third episode of the new season. Temperance Brennan is a fabulous character. She’s funny without trying to be and I love that she’s smarter than everyone, but still flawed.

Booth, however, is the perfect hero. My husband knows about my mega-crush on Booth, but he attributes it to David Boreanaz being hot, which he is, no argument. But really, it’s the character I love.

He’s smart, cocky, funny, and fiercely protective of those he loves. He looks good in suit or jeans. He’s comfortable in his own skin, with who he is. He’s the kind of guy who lets you know where you stand with him, and he’s not afraid of emotion.

Booth isn’t perfect. He comes from a dysfunctional family, which is baggage he carries with him. He was abused. He was a sniper in the military. He’s killed and it weighs on him. He’s a recovering gambling addict.

All these things make him human and relatable. It’s what all writers strive for in creating characters.  If you don’t know Booth and Bones, here’s a peek:

Oh, and did I mention … he’s a man in uniform :)

Which fictional hero (TV, movies, books) do you love? What makes him most lovable?

Who Was Your First?

No, not that first. I’m talking about your first romance hero. Since this is my virgin blog post, it seemed appropriate to talk about firsts.

I have a confession to make. Unlike many readers, I have not been reading romance novels since I was a pre-teen. I didn’t sneak them from my mom’s stash. Although she came to romance before I did, it wasn’t until after I was an adult.

I didn’t discover romance until after I had my second child. Being an English teacher, I usually read what I would have to teach. Literature. (When you say that, be sure to sound snooty.) Not that there’s anything wrong with reading the dead white guys, but it did make me a bit of a snob. Before having kids, I read one “fluff” book a year; one book that was for pure pleasure, and this is how I discovered romance.

Being at home with a toddler and a newborn, I needed mental breaks. I began reading while the baby ate. I didn’t even know that the book I’d chosen was a romance. It wasn’t a Harlequin category title. What I didn’t know at the time was that it was a reprint of one of her Silhouette books. In my mind, romance was the stereotypical bodice-rippers that I thought were beneath me.

While at Costco, I found a book with a blurb that I thought sounded good.

Who was this Nora Roberts person anyway? (Oh, how little I knew.)

The Return of Rafe MacKade

Ten years after disappearing from Antietam, Maryland, the bad boy has returned. Cleaned up and successful now—and still dangerously good-looking—Rafe MacKade sets the town on fire, and tongues wagging.

Lovely newcomer Regan Jones is intrigued—what kind of man could cause this sort of talk? She’s just about to find out.… (from Amazon)

Lucky for me, I discovered my perfect romance hero in that first book. Rafe MacKade. He was a former bad boy returned to town to fix up a house and his reputation. A bad boy with a tool belt. What more could I ask for?

The Return of Rafe MacKade turned me into an avid romance reader. I gobbled up a huge portion of Nora’s backlist, but I branched out in so many ways. I never thought I could find so much contentment by reading about someone else’s HEA. After years of reading, I turned my sights on writing, something I had given up in the years after college while I was a teacher.

I still love to read romance even as I work on my own writing. There’s nothing like a satisfying happily ever after to put you in a good mood.

Your turn. Who was your first romance hero? (or if you really want, you can tell us about your other first :P)

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