Romance novels tell us not how men are, but how we wish them to be.
A few years back (I’m not telling how many *laughing*) I found myself in the position of watching my (previous) marriage at the beginning of the inevitable downward slide toward divorce.
It was a tough time. Worse, because I was trying to follow my dream of writing. That was what tipped over the apple cart.
What saved me was reading, of course. More particularly, reading a series of specific books – Nora Roberts Chesapeake Bay series. Knowing N.R.’s history helped remind me that second chances were possible. (Or, in my case, third or fourth.)
I would follow that dream, my dreams, in more ways than one. As many times as I tried to convince my ex to expand his horizons, to travel outside his comfort zone, he wouldn’t. (He preferred Las Vegas.)
Now newly divorced, I could. So I did. I had always wanted to visit Great Britain, to see certain literary sites – like the moors of England, Stonehenge, the horse country, and one of the lochs in Scotland – but particularly Ireland. Much of my heritage is based in the British Isles.
Although I consider myself primarily a fantasy writer, I was inspired by Nora Roberts’ books to write a series of my own.
Thus was born The Millersburg Quartet – the first of which was Irish Fling.
That book set the tone for all but the last, Two Up – the
only one not based in reality, although it was born of my creative process.
Dirty Politics was based on my father’s frequent forays into politics, and what I learned of the process. As the old adage goes there are two things you never want to see made – sausages and laws. They’re right. Even on the local level, there are dirty tricks – and dirty politics.
As with the others, Director’s Cut came from my experience with community theater – even
many of characters and events were about real people and real events. It’s also an homage to the man who inspired the character of the ‘matchmaker’.
Two Up was just fun to write. Even though my husband the motorcycle safety instructor has banned me from riding. *laughing* Bikes are more powerful than they were when I was riding in my teens and I’m too easily distracted. However, the hot bath in the hollow in the woods was real.
All the books in The Millersburg Quartet are available everywhere, and all are in print.
In honor of Valentines Day, Irish Fling is on sale for $.99 everywhere – B&N #Nook, #Kobo, #AppleBooks and #Kindle. The entire Millersburg Quartet is also available in print via Amazon.
Read More »
To those folks I say, “Oh please! I blow raspberries in your general direction”.
Have you read Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol? He was using his writer’s bully pulpit to bring attention to the poor, and how they were kept that way through ignorance (lack of public education). Or on the opposite side, Tom Clancy – a known conservative whose political views informed all his writing.
To find myself the subject of a political ‘intervention’, though, was more than a little shocking. After all, in this country, your political party and vote are supposed to be a matter of personal choice, one of our freedoms.
Yes, I said an intervention. I walked into the kitchen of my ex-husband’s parent’s home to find his family blocking all the exits, and his mother – the local chair of the party in question – holding a change of registration form. It seems they needed someone to represent my district and they decided I was it…at least until they discovered I was a registered independent. (I had supported my father in his multiple failed campaigns.) To say that I was not amused would be an understatement. Apparently, they thought I was malleable. (They clearly didn’t know me very well.)
So, they staged an intervention, and they weren’t going to let me leave until I changed my registration. (Of course, they didn’t consider that I could change it back again.) In any case, the one thing it did successfully do was make me more aware, as well as making me research politics to understand the way it worked.
*Grins* Being a writer, of course, I wove that experience and knowledge into my work, both in a more serious way – the results of political policies on those caught by those policies in the political thriller Nike’s Wings – and in a romance on a seemingly lighter, more personal level showing politics on the local arena (with a kind of strange prescience of what would play out on the national stage in recent times) with Dirty Politics.
Everything we do, every part of what we are, informs us as writers…and it will show. We must be true to ourselves, and our readers
If you need an escape this weekend, escape with into the political thrills with Nike’s Wings or into a romance with Cam (and her sexy DA Noah) in Dirty Politics.
Nike’s Wings is available on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005GHE94K
Dirty Politics is available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005318DNW
Read More »
*laughing* I can just hear it – a ‘sweet’ erotic romance? How is that even possible? To tell you the truth, I just wanted to write an erotic romance with a Christmas theme. The holidays for me have always been a celebration of love, romance, etc. (I was married on Christmas Eve in a reformed Catholic Church, in what had been a chicken barn before family, friends, and the homeless people the church served. Yeah, I’m like that.) So it was important to me for it to have a positive theme – no bad boys with bad attitudes. There is a bit of the paranormal about it.
It is sweet and sexy. Yeah, there’s a lot of sex. *grins* For most men, sex and romance are pretty much interchangeable, at least for a while, and that’s true for Travis. He’s a little lost, too, the life he thought he had has come apart.
Mikaela is a cockeyed optimist, despite a rough background, but she does have trust issues.
In dreams, though, anything is possible.
The Best Christmas Present – release date 12/18/2015 Read More »
Well, the easiest answer is this one – sometimes what seems to work great for a particular book just doesn’t. And sometimes your vision of the art for a cover just doesn’t work.
A case in point was the self-created cover art for Song of the Fairy Queen, an action-oriented epic fantasy, for which I was delighted to win an Arianna award. However, I found that men weren’t reading it – the heavily pink cover was putting them off. So, I hired a new cover artist, and sales improved significantly among both sexes.
It’s even more important for a series, though, to have cohesive covers because it ties the books together. As in the covers for my Coming Storm and Servant of the Gods series.
Read More »
With romances, though, it tends to be a bit more crucial. One of my favorite romance authors – Nora Roberts – has a number of series. Her Chesapeake Bay books are still my go-to books when I need to escape. The same is true of her J D Robb novels.
That was what I was looking for with my Millersburg Quartet series. The cover artist I hired had done
some great work for other writers, and I thought I had communicated that the books were part of a series. The cover for the first book was great…but the others had no link to the first or the others in the series. If nothing else, I would have liked to have a banner, or at least a mention on the cover that they all were related in some way. The badge she created, though, was easily overlooked rather than
something that linked the books together. It also tended to make the covers look too busy, especially the last one.
I kept thinking about it, particularly when it came to my readers. The series is different, the heroines aren’t the usual women looking for a man – they’re strong, capable women. Although they got good reviews for the content, the covers just didn’t seem to match. Then a friend saw a review of the series and was inspired to create new covers, with an eye to have elements that tied all the books together – the fonts, position, and each one has the name of the series on it, yet each suits the individual book, with an emphasis on the romance.
Irish Fling – the first in the series
The terrible events in Canadensis, PA – the fatal shooting of one state trooper and the wounding of another – and the Ray Rice scandal brought back a lot of memories.
You see, a shooting like the one in Canadensis – although not of state troopers but of his neighbors – was an unspoken ambition of my ex-husband. Unspoken to anyone but me.
I had grown up in the Pocono Mountains, and that’s where I returned – as Cam does in Dirty Politics, and for the same reason. It had been home to me, a refuge. Much of the events in both Dirty Politics and The Last Resort were inspired by real events in my life.
That refuge would be tarnished.
Like many victims of domestic violence, I was young – just twenty – and I had already been a victim of another act of violence. When I met the man who would become my ex-husband, he promised that no one else would ever hurt me.
No one but him, that is.
To look at him, no one would have pegged him as an abuser. He was handsome, with thick, dark hair
and blue eyes. His best friend was on the local police force – which many would be shocked to find is disturbingly common. It’s difficult for the victim of domestic violence to go to the local police when one of them is your spouse’s best friend. A claim of battering would all too likely have been met by disbelief.
If it came down to it, my ex’s plan was to walk down the street shooting. This despite the fact that he claimed to truly like one of the neighbors – an elderly black woman who had always been kind to him. (Closet racism was alive and well then as now.) If cornered he would go out in a blaze of glory. Death by cop.
In those days, domestic violence was just rising to the national awareness thanks to movies like ‘The Burning Bed’ and The Facts of Life actress Nancy McKeon’s A Cry for Help. Or the Julia Roberts movie Sleeping with the Enemy – which showed that socioeconomic status wasn’t an indicator of domestic violence. It’s not just poor or middle class women who deal with it – as Ray Rice’s new wife proves.
Having survived domestic violence, I had high hopes, but over time – and certainly over the last few years – I’ve grown cynical. That was the reason why I had written both The Last Resort and Dirty Politics. I wanted to raise awareness, but even more, I wanted to bring a sense of hope to women who had been through domestic violence. I wanted them to know that they hadn’t been forgotten, and that they still had a chance to find happily ever after with the right person. I didn’t want to write the usual ‘victim’ story – and so I wrote The Last Resort – as an entertaining way to help people understand that domestic violence is…complicated.
One of my least favorite questions about that time – and one of the reasons I don’t talk about it much – is this one… “How did someone like you….?” The assumption being that an intelligent woman wouldn’t have found herself in that situation. As if all abusers came with a big red “A” tattooed on their forehead, rather than many being charming, if subtly controlling.
I’ve learned not to talk about it for another reason – the inevitable comment that follows any domestic violence discussion. “Why do they go back?”
The answer to that question is as myriad as the women who wore Ray Rice jerseys to football games.
First, of course, is an entire culture that caters to the idea that women need to be protected rather than learning to protect themselves, and that bad boys will be reformed by the ‘right’ woman. That only happens in fiction. It’s one of the reasons I dislike both Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey, for perpetuating that myth.
The reality is that bad boys don’t reform, that if he lies to you once, he’ll lie whenever it’s convenient. As far as going back? What choice do victims have, really?
In most cases, their spouses controlled the money. As bad as the situation is, going to a shelter can seem worse over time. The victim has no income. They’re not just poor, they’re destitute. They uprooted their children. They not only lost their home, but they may have left their pets behind. A pet the ex can threaten.
And where can they go? Home to their parents, where their spouse can find them?
That spouse can also claim visitation rights.
Most shelters help victims fill out protection from abuse orders, but any cop will tell you that those orders are only worth the paper they’re written on. The only purpose for filing them is to have a record of the claim. If they’re lucky, that order is used to keep the abuser away. If they’re unlucky, it identifies the victim’s killer. How many times have you seen that in the news? The victim left, but they still weren’t safe. In one case locally, the victim got remarried to a police officer. Her ex broke into the house and shot them both.
The abuse may be bad, but living is a persuasive argument.
Even the abuser’s situation is complicated. Even police officers abuse their spouses. It’s a question of money and power.
In cases like Ray Rice’s, there’s the whole football culture. Growing up, I remember that there was a status to being a star player. I also remember the warnings. Only cheerleaders had the status to date the quarter or running backs. And even the cheerleaders were taking their chances. So is it any surprise when you take a talented and handsome young man, give him a lot of money, and women throwing themselves at his feet, that he thinks he’s on top of the world? Look at Justin Bieber.
So the dialogue about domestic violence begins again – after the law that funded it has been gutted. Abused spouses are flooding hot lines, the NFL is pouring money into help centers, and hopefully into shelters and training programs.
More importantly, though, we need to end the culture of blame for both victim and abuser, to get them the help they need – the spouses to redevelop their self-esteem, and for the abusers to learn better ways to express their anger.
Then, and only then, will domestic violence come to an end. At least the NFL is stepping up, but we need Congress as well, and that’s not going to happen.
20% of all proceeds from the sale of The Last Resort will go to domestic violence shelters.
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052UX3V6
Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-last-resort-19
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005318DNW
Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/dirty-politics-2
Three women a day are murdered in this country by an intimate partner, and gun ownership by an abuser increases a woman’s chances of being murdered. Read More »