Thanks, Delilah, for having me here today! One of the most basic reasons people read stories is to connect and relate to the characters. There can be a great premise, a fantastic setting… but if the characters suck, then we the readers are left unfulfilled and cheated.
Our characters, particularly in romance, drive the story. We need them to be memorable.
As a writer, we have many tools available to us to make that happen.
For Off Her Game, I had a hard time figuring out Darren, my hockey playing hunk of a hero. And somewhere during that process of drafting the story, I realized I wasn’t going deep enough into the character interviews to really feel out who they are. And then a friend suggested that I have Darren tell me his story. I had nothing to lose at that point, so I said, “What the hell?”
So I sat down with a blank document and pretty soon, Darren was pouring his little heart out to me. I started with age, physical description and then he started talking to me about his life. How was his relationship with his parents? What was his education like? How did he get into hockey? When did he think marriage was a good idea when his wife was a harpy? What kind of wounds does Darren carry? And the hardest question ever: What does the character want most of all?
It takes a while to get him or any character to answer that question. They might say something but then I need to dig deeper, ask him why and force him to give me his real secret desire.
For Darren, his life is hockey. He eats, lives, breathes the game. A bad marriage nearly killed that for him. So when it came time to ask what he’d be willing to sacrifice to reach that goal… well, I’ll save that for the book. The point is that letting him talk to me made him a real, live character that any woman could love.
Doing this with Darren opened my eyes to who he really was. It streamlined the drafting process, because as soon as I knew who he was, the words flowed on the page of the book. So naturally, I had to do it with Valerie too. As the heroine, Off Her Game strongly favors her story. She’s coming into her own in the story, figuring out that the job wasn’t what defined her. I never would have realized that if it weren’t for me sitting down and letting her tell me her story.
As a reader, have you ever read that book that had such a brilliantly alive character you wondered if they really existed? Or, on the flip side, read a book with a character that had yet to tell their story?
Penalty Number One: Men
Making time for men and relationships doesn’t fit into Valerie Chase’s game plan. This crisis-counselor-turned-cocktail-waitress knows the score—Men are a distraction. But when a certain hockey player tempts her wild side, part of her wants to indulge in a little harmless fun.
Penalty Number Two: Desire
As the star center for the Texas Highlanders, Darren Moran’s good looks and deadly determination make him a fan favorite. But after the previous season’s disaster, the last thing he needs is to let some woman crawl under his skin. But… Valerie is different. She brings out the best in him—both on and off the ice—and he’s not about to lose her.
Penalty Number Three: Passion
When the game moves to the next level, Darren and Val have got to call timeout. An unplanned romance is a game-thrower, a sinful temptation that neither of them can afford. After all, there’s no way to have order in matters of the heart when the penalties tally up to an ejection from the game.
Off Her Game is now available at all major retailers!
Suzan Butler is a romance author with a penchant for Dr. Pepper, ice hockey, and world domination. She lives in Texas under a not-so-secret identity with two monsters, writing books and planning the next step in her evil plans into the twilight hours of the night because that’s when it’s quiet in the house. Visit her online at her website, suzanbutler.com, on Twitter (@SuzanButler) or come join the conversation on Facebook. To keep up to date on new releases, subscribe to the Fabulous, her mailing list.
The Random Number Generator chose entry #15! Congrats, Melissa Porter! Send me an email to arrange delivery of your prize!
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I’ve written quite a few short stories. I like the fact I can write one in just a couple of days. When I’m experimenting with a genre, a quick 4,000-words is enough to let me move inside another world and try it on. Some of them I sell to publishers who need short stories like Cleis Press or for one of the Mammoth Books. Not everyone will run to buy a collection of short stories just to see what I have written, so I am starting to pull those shorties together into their own collections. This was my first collection. I’ll release another, hopefully next month. Enjoy this snippet from another of my “experiments.” Can you guess what my naked man from the sea really is?
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From National Bestselling Author, Delilah Devlin, comes a naughty collection of seven bedtime stories for a week’s worth of nighttime reading pleasure —a little “som-som” to inspire sexy dreams or a one-handed orgasm, or to be read to a partner and enjoyed together.
Witness one woman’s desperate attempt to seduce her busy husband in “Lily’s Last Stand”. In “Nip ‘n’ Tuck” follow a shy seamstress’s adventures with an online suitor that doesn’t go quite as planned. Dive into “Dreaming by the Sea” where a woman with a mysterious past is surprised by a lover who strides naked from the ocean to claim her. An adventurous Victorian nurse learns the pleasures of steam-driven technology in “Dr.Mullaley’s Cure”. A New York commuter shares lustful daydreams of with another subway passenger in “The Morning Ride”. A woman finds the limits of her inhibitions tested in a one-night stand in “All About Me”. In “The Obedient Wife”, find out what really happened between The Beauty and the Beast. Hint: It’s not your children’s fairytale!
From “Dreaming By The Sea” from Strokes
Sea foam lathered the jagged rocks along the shore, each lap sounding like a soapy caress. A sensual sound that fired my imagination to think about things I hadn’t since…well, in a very long time.
Frustrated with the elusive memory, I turned my face into the wind and enjoyed the way it whipped at my hair and the nightgown I’d thrown on over my underwear before making the trek down to the beach. The way the light played at the edge of the horizon had proved too much temptation for me to stay inside the cabin hugging the side of the cliff.
The air was cool with an underlying note of humid heat. Cloying enough to make the silk stick to my skin, but I didn’t care. No one was there to see my slinky nightgown mold my body. I hadn’t wanted to dress since I rose from bed that morning. One of the perks of being a writer. I’d worked without a break all day, but now needed to clear the cobwebs before I headed back into my story.
I strode beside the water, jumping back to avoid the tidal fingers that seeped between the rocks lining the shore to rush across the sand. I headed to the small pool the ebbing tide left every day to see the treasures the sea deposited for me to admire.
Or so I liked to think. Not that I ever took them home. I hadn’t the courage to wet my fingers in the brine. An old phobia—one I wasn’t sure where it started.
Tall, sharp-edged boulders framed the opening where the water rushed into the pool. Peering into the water, I lay on my stomach on a flat rock above the pool. I edged closer and closer, tempted to trail my fingers in the silky saltwater. An orange starfish, bits of broken shell, a long thin strand of seaweed were all that filled the pool. Still, I stared, wishing I were braver.
Sometimes, when you finish a story, there is a character just begging to have their story told too. Harm, the overbearing big brother from Caribbean Christmas, really deserved to have someone turn his world upside down. It wasn’t his romance, so the best I could give him was an oh-so satisfying slap across the face.
But telling Caribbean Casanova from Harm’s point of view meant an interesting dilemma. Harm sees Saskia, the heroine (and slapper) from Caribbean Christmas, as an annoying spoiled brat. This time around we see her through his lens, instead of from her own perspective. So from this angle, he’s right. I didn’t tie up their issues with a pretty bow because a lifetime of dislike doesn’t go away because someone is dating your brother or best friend.
There is a real power struggle going on between his controlling big brother tendencies and her free-spirited new adulthood. They managed to call a truce in Caribbean Crush (Under the Caribbean Sun 3), but I’d bet they bicker whenever in the same room. We’ll have to wait and see if it carries into any more stories.
Do you like seeing characters from different angles?
It started when I was in elementary school. Not many people, but a few, all of them grown-ups I looked up to—they’d sit back and shake their heads and they’d say: “Enjoy this, kid. You’ll look back on this one day as the best time of your life.”
At the time, I imagine I shrugged, not really understanding that kind of bone-deep nostalgia or that faint undertone of regret. In middle school, I openly scoffed. I was miserable, and adults were trying to tell me I’d look back on that time fondly? (Spoiler alert: I don’t.) In high school, more and more people started to repeat the promise to me, that in some distant future I too would wistfully remember my teen years. I was just as skeptical, and not much better at hiding my doubt.
But in college…In college I got that first little shiver of fear. Maybe the people telling me to soak it up were right.
The truth of the matter is, college was one of the best times of my life. I got married pretty young, and I grew up in a pretty strict household, so I remember those first few years when I was on my own with a rush. I experimented with all sorts of things, some of them good ideas and some bad, and all of it was exciting. I tried on a half-dozen different majors. I learned not to drink on an empty stomach. I figured out a little bit about who I was. And I learned a lot about love.
Sitting here in my mid-thirties, I look back on my college days with an undeniable sense of nostalgia. That said, I wouldn’t go back and relive it if I could. Sure, those were thrilling, heady years, but they were crazy, too. I was anguished as often as I was elated, and what I can reminisce on now as harmless experimentation at the time felt like flying on a high wire without a net.
And besides, why relive it when I can write about it?
Some of my very favorite stories to read and write take place in college. There’s so much to explore with characters who are just finding themselves, and when you pair self-discovery with that bright, impossible moment of discovering the heart of another person? Magical. And definitely worth reminiscing on.
She needs an escape…and he’s exactly what she had in mind.
College senior Ellen Price spends every spare minute studying to get into medical school. Until spring break yawns before her, as empty as her wallet.
With no money to hit the beach, she fills her empty to-do list with a plan: for just one week, she will become the kind of take-no-prisoners woman she secretly wishes to be, starting with the hot guy at the bar. It’s a no-risk situation: at the end of break, he’ll head back to his campus, and she’ll go back to hers. No muss, no fuss.
At first, Josh Markley isn’t sure what to think when the quiet, intense beauty from his pre-med classes approaches him for a night of casual sex. Even more mystifying, she doesn’t seem to return his recognition. But if she wants to play “strangers in a bar”, he’s game.
Their passionate night is a welcome respite from life’s stress, but afterward, Josh realizes he wants more—from himself, from life, from Ellen. Except she still thinks he’s a one-off she’ll never see again. Confessing the truth now—before she figures it out on her own—could shatter the fragile beginnings of just what the doctor ordered. A forever love.
Warning: Contains mistaken identities, a sometimes-glasses-wearing hottie, deep questions about figuring out what you want from life, and a red-hot college romance.
Jeanette Grey started out with degrees in physics and painting, which she dutifully applied to stunted careers in teaching, technical support, and advertising. When none of that panned out, she started writing. Her stories include futuristic romances and erotic contemporaries, and almost all of them include hints of either science or art.
When she isn’t writing, Jeanette enjoys making pottery, playing board games, and spending time with her husband and her pet frog. She lives, loves, and writes in upstate New York.
When I started the UGLY STICK SALOON Series, I knew I wanted to build a whole community of characters where I could end one story and start another revisiting some of the same places and same characters. In the Ugly Stick Saloon Series, secondary characters get their stories. This gives the readers a chance to revisit some of their favorite characters like old friends.
In one of my first UGLY STICK SALOON books, SEX ED, I introduced Ed and Kendall’s story. But Lacey Lambert played a big secondary role in that story. She’s finally getting her story in BOOTS AND LACE. The reader gets to learn why Lacey acts the way she does and how Nick McBride wins her over. It’s been over a year since SEX ED came out. It’s about time Lacey got her man!
***Leave a comment for a chance to win a download of Sex Ed ***
Myla Jackson spent twenty years in South Central Texas, ranching horses, cattle, goats, ostriches and emus. A former IT professional, retired Army and Air Force Reservist, she’s proud to be writing full-time, penning intrigues and paranormal adventures that keep her readers on the edge of their seats or laughing out loud. Now, living in northwest Arkansas, she’s given up wrangling cattle and exotic birds to wrangle her muses, a malti-poo and a yorkie. When she’s not at her computer, she’s traveling, out snow skiing, boating, or riding her four-wheeler, dreaming up new stories. Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter
Welcome back to the Ugly Stick Saloon!
She wants no strings…but he wants it all.
After her philandering husband left her, Lacey Lambert found sanctuary, and a better class of friends, at the Ugly Stick Saloon. Where she learned that the best revenge—against her ex, and the “friends” who kicked her out of the Temptation Garden Club—is to live life to the fullest.
Now that her best friend is moving out of her apartment building, she’s feeling a little lonely. And more than ready for a little commitment-free sex with the hot new downstairs tenant.
Freshly divorced, Nick McBride isn’t looking for another failed relationship. But when the luscious brunette offers no-strings sex—with him and his brother—he can’t come up with a good reason to refuse.
After he gets over the shock that she likes it loud, long, and in front of an open window, he finds himself wanting more time with her. Maybe even on a permanent basis. But it’ll take every ounce of his cowboy charms to convince her to let him sweep her off her feet.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a hopeless romantic. Yes, it’s cliché, but I am a dreamy idealist to the core. Fresh picked flowers and slow walks holding hands with my man light up my day. Gentle kisses and endearments whispered while sharing ice cream warm my heart.
As a young girl, I lived on a ranch at the outskirts of Elk Grove, California. Nestled along the base of the sierra foothills, our ranch was about five miles out of town. Every once in a while, I’d ride my horse to my girlfriend’s house through acres of wheat fields, past a quince orchard and cat-fish farm, and across two country roads to arrive in town. After securing my horse, we’d walk to Hilltop Cemetery, established in 1878, to explore.
In the 1980’s the cemetery’s cracked earth and summer-dried grass surrounded numerous embedded markers. Some of the upright headstones had fallen over, but many still graced the departed. While exploring, I’d conjure up stories in my mind about the deceased, their struggles and triumphs, marriages and births and love, religious beliefs, and such. I’d pretend their whispers rode the breeze.
One plot in particular drew my attention: the double plot of a husband that had preceded his wife’s death by decades. Now at peace, I would imagine them returned to their youth-filled selves, reuniting, embracing, and skipping off toward the Cosumnes River in the distance bliss-filled.
In 2005, the cemetery received a makeover. The headstones are upright again and surrounded by manicured lawns, new trees, and concrete pathways. A wrought iron fence wraps around the site and an archway welcomes guests. Many visitors place balloons and flowers, and stop to pay their respects to people they never knew in life.
In my debut short story A Promise Worth Keeping, which hit No.1 in free kindle Short Romance and the Top 100 paid lists, my childhood imagination sprang to life as I explored the irrevocability of lasting love through a newly hired groundskeeper’s predicament.
Clayton has a real mess on his hands. Not only have garden vandals threatened the Remy Estate’s Valentine’s Day celebration, but Clayton’s girlfriend, Sarah, has proposed to him despite knowing he doesn’t believe in lasting love.
By hunkering down in the garden all night, Clayton hopes to at least solve one of his problems and catch the vandals in the act. Instead, will Clayton finally face his fears and become a man worth loving?
Do you believe in everlasting love?
Leave a comment for a chance at a $5 Amazon gift card.
Happy reading and writing,
Leading the way to happily ever after…
Cyndi Faria is an engineer turned romance writer whose craving for structure is satisfied by plotting emotional and cozy paranormal romance stories about cursed spirits, lost souls, harbingers, and even a haunted coastal town. “Cyndi Faria writes with passion and her stories touch the heart,” says Virna DePaul, Bestselling Author of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. On and off Cyndi’s sexy romance pages, this California country girl isn’t afraid to dirty her hands fighting for the underdog and caretaking rescued pets. Find her helping fellow writers and leading readers to happily ever after at www.cyndifaria.com.
This is a year of new beginnings for me. In February, I published the first three novellas in theSheikhs of the Golden Triangle series. March is the month I’m blogging for the first time ever. Thanks for inviting me, Delilah!
Have you ever wondered about the timing of events? Looking back at the crossroads in your past, have you ever wondered how different your life might be if you’d taken the other road? Sometimes life feels orchestrated, other times totally random. Is there any such thing as coincidence?
Life is like story creation for a work of fiction, and we are characters in our own novels.
Writing The Sheikh’s Spy made me reflect on the sequence of how things unfold in our lives.
For example, Olympia is kidnapped by a wealthy sheikh and held as collateral because her brother can’t pay his astronomical gambling debt. One evening she is called from the harem quarters to entertain visiting dignitaries, and overhears a plot to kill Sheikh Adnan in the neighboring kingdom of Zahiria. She breaks free, intent on warning him that his life is in danger.
If Olympia’s brother hadn’t gambled in that casino on the Riviera the same night the nefarious Sheikh Mahjub was there… or if the sheikh hadn’t decided impulsively to take Olympia as his chattel until the debt was paid… or if Olympia hadn’t decided to escape and find her way to Zahiria… Adnan may have lost his life. Did his survival truly rest on a series of ‘what if’ events, or would he have been spared in some other way?
Then I reflected on a few major events in my own life. If my parents hadn’t taken me to a particular night club on my twenty-first birthday, I wouldn’t have met the man who became my first husband. When he asked for my phone number, I hesitated and wanted to fake a number, but something compelled me to give him my phone number.
In the series prequel, The Amulet, what if the Prince of Zahiria hadn’t fallen in love with the witch’s daughter? If he’d married the princess his parents had chosen for him, perhaps a long series of misfortunes and wars could have been averted. Oonagh the witch may never have created an amulet to protect his kingdom, and the intrigues that plagued the region for centuries may never have happened.
I like to think we have some control over our lives, but sometimes in hindsight it seems life’s pivotal moments came about like the toss of a coin, or the spin of the wheel at a roulette table.
Maybe we are all characters in a gigantic work of fiction some cosmic being out there is writing. I find such thoughts fascinating. When we make everyday decisions, it doesn’t feel like we’re taking a gamble, at least not most of the time.
Does it all end at death, or does the saga continue on the other side of the veil? In Christmas Spirits, the ghost of Anna O’Cleary agrees to give up her right to visit her old Irish castle ever again in exchange for a weekend with her beloved husband, Sheikh Khazan, in the flesh again one last time. Her goal is to entice him to follow her to the spirit world when she leaves. This was such a major gamble, she probably considered the ‘what ifs’ before she sealed the deal.
The universe always fills a void. If I hadn’t met my first husband in that nightclub on my twenty-first birthday, maybe I’d have bumped into him poolside, or in a restaurant the next day. Or maybe I’d have met and married an entirely different man instead.
The two things we do seem to have control over are our minds and hearts. We magnetize people, places and things to ourselves based on the thoughts we put out, and the intentions we hold in our hearts. So, are we the ones writing our own novel?
Have you ever pondered, “What if I’d done this instead of that?”
Thanks for reading this post and pondering the “what ifs” with me. If you have any thoughts about this, or crossroad experiences to share, I’d love to hear them.
If you enjoy sizzling desert princes and passionate heroines in exotic settings, check out my website.