Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sports Romances: Guaranteed to Score

        

One of my all time favorite books!

One of my all time favorite books!

Romance novels involving athletes have become extremely popular in the past several years.  Thanks to authors like Susan Elizabeth Phillips and her Chicago Stars, Deirdre Martin and her New York Blades and Jill Shalvis and the Santa Barbara Heat, readers have been culling the shelves for more sports romances.

        Why?  Because sports romances are inherently sexy.  For starters, they feature athletes with ripped bodies, nimble fingers, and lots of stamina. These guys are the ultimate Alpha hero because jocks live their lives playing a game.  Not only that, but they get paid well to do it.  Most of them are extremely self-confident and driven to win at all costs.  In a word, they’re egocentric.  Oh yeah, successful, athletic men are very sexy.

A good sports romance will give the reader a peek at the more vulnerable side of athletes, too.  These men harbor fears of not making the play or being injured or worse, cut from the team.  Some even have quirks or superstitious idiosyncrasies that make them endearing. (Although, I’m not so sure a scruffy beard is sexy, Boston!)  A glimpse at the more human aspect of life as a professional athlete adds to the sexiness.

But, the best part of a sports romance is watching these alpha heroes have their whole world turned upside down when they meet the one woman they can’t live without.  Athletes approach relationships much like they do a game and they don’t like to lose.  So when they meet a woman that changes the game on them, it makes the sparks fly off the pages. 

foolish games cover high resIn my latest release, Foolish Games, Baltimore Blaze linebacker, Will “William the Conqueror” Connelly is a cerebral, intense, behemoth man who takes care of business on the playing field while keeping to himself off the gridiron.  When he’s blindsided with the news he’s a father, Will believes he can orchestrate the lives of both his son and the baby’s mother much the same way he executes defensive plays during a game.  Of course, his game plan doesn’t work out exactly how he expected—what would be the fun in that?

 

What do you find sexy about a sports romance?  What are some of your favorites that you’ve read? 

Some Like It Hot

Hearts afireMuch has been written about the rise of erotic romance since the stunning success of the Fifty Shades series, but this article on Salon.com is the best I’ve read. To me it gets to the heart of why people read erotic romance—and it’s not for the reasons that those who neither read nor write in the genre seem to believe. The article quotes author Anna Alexander, who sums it up well:

People are at their most vulnerable when they’re naked together, which leads them to admit their true feelings even if only to themselves.

Few would suggest that mysteries, thrillers, and horror novels should not dramatize killings because those scenes would only serve to titillate readers. It’s pretty clear that violence is inherent to those novels, and the degree to which the violence is graphically depicted depends on the author and the story.

So why is it difficult to understand that in novels about romantic love, where sexual attraction is intrinsic to the plot and character development, dramatization of the sex scenes can be integral to the story, rather than existing for cheap thrills?

Readers enjoy erotic romance for the same reason they enjoy other romance novels: because love conquers all. This belief is fundamental to human happiness. When the reader’s taste and the author’s talent are dismissed (by people ignorant of the genre, who’ve never read any of the literary-quality novels it’s produced), we are all diminished. This attitude says that we, as a species, shouldn’t value love. Shouldn’t value the decision of whom to marry and have children with. Shouldn’t value the joy that a fulfilling sexual relationship brings to our lives.

As an author of romantic women’s fiction, I generally don’t write novels where the sexual journey is key to the storyline. The sex scenes aren’t graphic, because they don’t need to be. But some stories can’t be told without fully dramatized sex scenes. That’s why erotica and erotic romance exist. It’s not about the sex—it’s about the story.

What do you think? Does the edginess of erotic romance appeal to you? Or do you prefer the bedroom door to be closed?

Time in Get OUTside!

After my whirlwind year of 2013 when writing took up a good chunk of my existence, I’m going back to the garden. Taking a break, if you will, from the fervent typing in exchange for the rhythmic till of soil. It’s good to be outside, especially on a day when it’s sunny and 70! Florida living…. Not that the polar vortex missed us. It didn’t. But we do get a reprieve where many of you do not. My condolences.

My plants have missed me but are loving the cooler temps. Cabbage and broccoli love this weather.

cabbage is happy

Brussels Sprouts are coming along nicely, plumping on the stalk.

Brussels are sprouting

Onions, too. The warm bed of hay mulch helps.

sweet onions are snug

I also have carrots, kale and lettuce in ground. A few peppers, plus, we planted some potatoes today. All seem content. Miraculously, my tomatoes are not brown and dead from last week’s freeze.

frozen but not dead tomatoes

Not sure how that happened but I’m not chancing a bite of the fruit. I think I’m good until spring. 🙂

Spring. In Florida that’s only 6 weeks away! I hate to boast but life is good here in the South.

Voices in my head

I’m about two-thirds of the way through a rough first draft of my current manuscript, a story about the daughter of a country music icon trying to step out of her dead mother’s shadow. The End is in sight, and from this point on, the rest should feel like an easy downhill slide; a last, easy charge to the finish line.

The reality? Some days it does, other days it doesn’t.

On really good days, the story plays out in my head like a movie. My characters take the lead, telling me what they want to say, showing me where they want to go. They dictate what happens next, paying no attention to  my carefully plotted outline. I always let them, because those are the days when magic happens, when my characters surprise me by doing or saying something I didn’t see coming. Those are the days I can’t type fast enough. I love every word, too, even the ones I know need tweaking. 

On other days, my characters fall flat and silent. They stand around, wooden and lifeless, shrugging and sighing and rolling their eyes. I move them around like chess pieces, trying to prod them into action. They dig in their heels and glare. They tell me I’m too pushy. They tell me they need space. I put down the laptop and stalk away, angry and frustrated. I created them, and now they don’t they love me anymore?

museI have enough writer friends to know my characters aren’t the only ones to have split personalities — happy and helpful one day, surly and silent the next. Some writers attribute it to their muse, but to be perfectly honest, I think the concept of a writing muse is a load of baloney. Hard work is my muse. Determination is my muse. Stubbornness, too.

When my characters tell me they need space, it typically means need space. For me, physical exertion — a run around the neighborhood, a trip to the gym — does the trick, and I return to my keyboard with new energy and ideas. But my point is, my muse has nothing to do with it. If I sat around waiting for her to strike, if I didn’t push through the bad days to get to the good, I’d never finish writing this book. 

Yes, there are some magical moments when the story seems to write itself. Enough to keep me in love with the process, and with my story.

But most days, I slog through and write it myself. I’m a writer, and that’s what I do — write.

Other writers, what about you? Do you have a muse? How do you handle things when she stops talking to you?

Hello, Little Doggie

This guy looks lackadaisical like Phillip. (Say that three times fast.) freedigitalphotos.net

This guy looks lackadaisical like Phillip.
(Say that three times fast.)
freedigitalphotos.net

In my current novel-in-progress, which is women’s fiction, my main character has a dog named Phillip. He’s a grumpy beagle who, despite being “just” a furry sidekick, steals every scene he’s in. Whether it’s his sheer disdain for everything going on around him (truth is, his discord is all a ruse), or the way he lovingly gets under the MC’s skin, this guy has what it takes to be one of my favorite dogs.

And of course now I’m thinking about my other favorite dogs, so let me introduce you.

Let’s do the fictional pooch first: Enzo, from Garth Stein’s novel, The Art of Racing in the Rain, my favorite (I said favorite!) book. (You can read the review I wrote here.) He is a loyal, intelligent dog who stole my heart in paragraph one.

Then there’s my friend Melanie‘s dog, Owen, who’s quite the handsome miniature schnauzer. You can find him on Facebook. He’s smart, well-spoken, adventurous. And he may or may not have a Spanish accent.
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chloeBest for last: My niece, Chloe! She’s an English bulldog with the best temperament and sweetest face you’ve ever seen. See? –>

Life is so much better with a dog. Even a fictional one.
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What about you, do you write pets into your stories? As a reader, do you feel fiction is more fun when there are “furbabies” to round out the family?
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Tell me about the dogs that are most memorable for you.
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