Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Guest Blog: The Evolution of a Romance Reader

by Trish McCallan

I’ve been a reader for as long as I can remember. Back in grade school I devoured any book that had an animal in it. I went through all the dog books, all the horse books, all the pig, cat, chicken, goat, mule, deer and spider books that our local library had. I used to bike there every couple of days with a basket full of books and return with a basketful of books.  My mom used to laughingly claim that I missed every family vacation because I had my nose buried in between the pages. 

Even then I wanted my happy ending. I hated books where the animal died. Hated them. Hated them. Hated them. I wouldn’t even check them out. I’d ask the clerk at the counter. Lassie doesn’t die, does she? Or the Black Stallion’s Minx doesn’t die, does she. Old Yeller doesn’t—he does? Back on the shelf it would go.

So looking back, romances and I were a natural fit. I wanted a happy ending, even back then—without knowing what a happy ending was—that’s what I was looking for.

I still remember stumbling across my first romance. I was a teenager at the time, around fifteen, still on a horse kick. And someone loaned me a book about a city girl who gets shipped to her grandparents for the summer and rescues a starving horse.  There was a boy in this book. A local cutie, who happened to be the town’s expert on horses.  He helped the heroine nurse her horse back to heath. I guess you’d call it a sweet young adult romance. I think there some kissing, but that was all. I devoured it, and it wasn’t the horse action I was hooked on! After I finished the book, I biked to my local bookstore to buy more. Problem was he didn’t have anything else like it, instead he pointed me to the Barbara Cartland section of the wall.  I didn’t know enough to look at the blurb, so I bought the books that had a horse on the cover. *g

And that’s how I discovered romances. I bought from Barbara Cartland’s shelf until there were none left, and then I moved down the row, which happened to be Harlequin presents.  I used to save up my allowance, and my paper route money and I’d spend every penny on books. I never saved a dime because I was always buying books.  These, you see, weren’t books I could find in the children’s section of our local library. I didn’t know enough to look in the adult section.

And then, wonder of wonders, I discovered I could get these same books really, really cheap at the local Goodwill. So I used to go down and buy shopping bags full of them. At the Goodwill, there were other romances too, historicals mostly. So I bought them as well. I was in high school by then, and most definitely did not need sex education. 

I read my first romantic suspense while in college. It was from the now dissolved Silhouette Intimate Moments line, and they quickly became my favorites. I knew exactly when to expect the new releases to arrive and I’d buy every single one of them. This is where I discovered Linda Howard, Suzanne Brockmann, Rachel Lee, Kylie Brant, and a host of other romantic suspense authors. When my favorite authors moved to single title, I followed them. As the category lines became more and more bogged down with clich├ęd storylines, I branched out into single title romantic suspense and pretty much stayed there.

I’ve read almost everything through the years, with the exception of inspirationals. But my two favorite genres have always been romantic suspense and paranormal.  It’s no surprise, I suppose, that every single book I’ve written combines these two elements.

So tell me, do you remember the first romance you read? How did you find it? And what did you move onto from there? What was your evolution as a romance reader?

Beth Brown doesn’t believe in premonitions until she dreams a sexy stranger is gunned down during the brutal hijacking of a commercial airliner. When events in her dream start coming true, she heads to the flight’s departure gate. To her shock, she recognizes the man she’d watched die the night before.

Lieutenant Commander Zane Winters comes from a bloodline of elite warriors with psychic abilities. When Zane and two of his platoon buddies arrive at Sea-Tac Airport, he has a vision of his teammates’ corpses. Then she arrives—a leggy blonde who sets off a different kind of alarm.

As Beth teams up with Zane, they discover the hijacking is the first step in a secret cartel’s deadly global agenda and that key personnel within the FBI are compromised. To survive the forces mobilizing against them, Beth will need to open herself to a psychic connection with the sexy SEAL who claims to be her soul mate.
"Forged In Fire is a smoking hot adventure with an irresistible alpha hero. Danger, action, suspense, and a steamy romance make a story that's impossible to put down!"

Patti O'Shea, National Bestselling Author of Through a Crimson Veil

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


(by Rayne Hall)

Photo Credit: Dreamstime_xxl_19705302

You can create exciting plot complications if the magician who casts a spell gets it wrong.

Here are some ideas you can use in your fiction. Although I've used the female pronoun, everything applies to magicians of either gender.

* The magician summons a spirit (e.g. a demon) to do her bidding - but that spirit is malevolent and more powerful than she expected, and she is unable to keep it under control.

* The magician creates a protective circle around herself which shields her from the summoned spirits and from evil - but then she accidentally steps out of the circle.

* The magician recites a complicated spell ... but she misremembers a word or mispronounces a syllable, and the outcome is not what she intended. (This happens only with forms of magic which rely on the precise wording, for example, ancient Egyptian magic. It doesn't happen with forms of magic where the intent is more important than the word, such as Wiccan witchcraft.)

* The magician wants something intensely, and doesn't mean to cast a spell ... but she has unwittingly raised magical energy by dancing or drumming, and her intense desire turns into a spell... one which she comes to regret bitterly.

* The magician, roused to righteous anger, casts a harmful spell (a hex or a curse) on someone... but the harm returns to her, and she suffers the same fate. (In some forms of magic, it is said that the harm returns threefold, or hundredfold.)

* The magician casts a benevolent spell to help someone... but by helping one person, she is harming another (e.g. by helping a friend succeed at a job interview, she robs someone else of the chance), and the harm returns to her.

* The magician casts a spell on the spur of the moment, which at the time seems the right thing to do... but afterwards, she realises that what she has done is unethical, or has unwanted consequences.

* The magician summons a god into the circle .... but gods don't take kindly to humans who boss them about. Although they may lend a helping hand to the magician who invites them, they may punish the presumptuous ones.

* The magician raises magical energy to fuel a spell (for example, by dancing, drumming or chanting)... but she raises more than she intended, and the spell magnifies out of proportion. She may intend to light a candle, and instead set the house on fire. She may intend to bring an afternoon's sunshine, and instead bring ten years of desperate drought.

* The magician may desperately try to concentrate on the spell, because magic works through the mind... but in a situation of acute danger, she can't concentrate. The more urgently she needs to concentrate, the less she is able to. Perhaps the gun-armed killers are already breaking down the door, or the sadistic villain is torturing her lover in the same room, and the distraction means she can't summon the concentration she needs to work magic.

* The magician casts a spell for what she wants to happen... but she forgets to specify how. For example, if she's desperate for cash, she may cast a spell for a hundred thousand dollars, and a week later she learns that her beloved sister has died and in her will left her that amount.

* The magician casts a spell for what she wants to happen... but she forgets to specify when. The results come years later, when she has long forgotten about the spell, and when the results are no longer desirable.

Magical mistakes can seldom be undone. Trying to undo a spell may even mess things up further. A sensible, experienced magician will always think carefully before she works magic, considering the necessary preparations, the ethic implications, and the possible consequences - but the magician in your novel may not always be careful and sensible.

The fiction potential of magical misjudgements and screw-ups endless. I hope this article has inspired your creativity.

If you have questions about magical mistakes, or want feedback for an idea, or if you need help with a magical mistake scenario in your WiP, please ask. I'll be around for a week and will answer questions.

Rayne Hall teaches an online workshop 'Writing about Magic and Magicians'. Create believable magicians (good and evil), fictional spells which work, and plot complications when the magic goes wrong. Learn about high and low magic, witches and wizards, circle-casting and power-raising, initiation and training, tools and costumes, science and religion, conflicts and secrecy, love spells and sex magic, and apply them to your novel. This is a 4-week class with 12 lessons and practical assignments. If you wish, you may submit a scene for critique at the end of the workshop.
The next dates for this workshop are:
October 2011: Celtic Hearts RWA www.celtichearts.org/workshops.html
March 2012: Lowcountry RWA www.lowcountryrwa.com/online-workshops/
April 2013: Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal: www.romance-ffp.com/workshops.cfm

Her other workshops include 'Writing Fight Scenes', 'Writing Scary Scenes' and 'The Low Word Diet'. For an updated listed of her upcoming workshops, go to sites.google.com/site/writingworkshopswithraynehall/

Rayne has had more than twenty books published under different pen names, with several publishing houses and in several languages. Her latest novel, Storm Dancer, is a dark-heroic fantasy about magic and demons.