#TuesdayTip Letting the Characters Lead the Way

Sorry to miss Man Candy, but I had some family things to handle. In the meantime, I’ve been furiously working on #2 in the At the Shore Contemporary Romance Series which more and more is feeling like “A Goodbye Summer.” Or least that’s the title for now. LOL!

For a long time I was a pantser and never wrote an outline. That ended for me years ago when I started writing series and needed to have an outline of not only the first book, but the connected books in the series. But for me, even an outline has a lot of give because of the characters and what I want to get across in the story.

For example, I’ve just gotten to a pivotal point where the hero and heroine are about to take that leap and I could have approached it in various ways. In fact, I wrote a good chunk of the scene but decided that it just wasn’t the feeling I wanted to convey for two people who were once lovers, but haven’t been together in nearly a decade. Sure there’s physical attraction there and I found myself fighting it as much as the characters were fighting it.

Which led me to a different scene because the characters were telling me there needed to be more to have them make that leap to lovers once again. There needed to be a deep emotional connection to bring them together at that particular moment.

Sometimes the characters will lead the way and as a writer, you need to give them the space and experiment with what they’re telling you to do. If it doesn’t work, there’s always the delete key and a chance to let them lead you down a different path. You’ll know in your gut when you’re on the right road with them.

Caridad's Writing Outline

#WriteWed Plotting with Friends & Lucy the Elephant

This weekend I got together with some writing friends from the fabulous Liberty States Fiction Writers. If you write genre fiction, you should really check out this organization. They’ve also got a great conference coming up in March with a number of workshops as well as editor/agent appointments.

I’m in the process of writing ONE NIGHT OF PLEASURE and wanted to bounce some ideas off my friends. They were awesome in helping me firm up some issues that I had and right now I’m chugging along on the first draft of this novella. I’m loving Bridget who is my kind of girl. Laid back and more comfortable in jeans and work boots than a fancy gown or high heels.

Of course, her first sexy encounter with the hero, retired Navy Captain Mark Smith (who you met in STAY THE NIGHT) will put her out of her element and into those girly clothes she just hates.

Actually, you kind of hear about Bridget in ONE LAST NIGHT and you get to meet her at the end of STAY THE NIGHT.

I’m having fun so far in setting the opening of this story in an Atlantic City casino and researching where I’ll take Bridget and Mark in Margate. I got to stay in Margate once many many years ago and it’s the perfect setting for Mark’s home. If you are ever down in that area, make sure to check out Lucy the Elephant. Lucy is a national history landmark and is one of the last animal-shaped buildings in the world (I believe). It’s been used for several different things such as a restaurant and tavern and it had a nearby hotel. Here’s a photo of it and it’s sure to get a mention in the book.
lucytheelephant

I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at my writer inspiration.

A heck of a few days & a Book Birthday

Take a Chance Box SetIt’s been a trying few days. Monday was the ‪#‎BookBirthday‬ for the Take a Chance ‪#‎erotic‬ ‪#‎military‬ ‪#‎romance‬ ‪#‎boxset‬ only it was tough to celebrate since:

1. My laptop crashed.
2. My Ipod died.
3. I went home sick on Monday and slept nearly 36 hours straight except for when
4. The tree hit the deck and house (see the photo below!).

Wow, yes I am not kidding. All that in 72 hours. The good news, I’m feeling better and I have a Book Birthday to celebrate! The Take a Chance set includes Just One Night, One Special Night and One Last Night and it’s only 2.99 for all three novellas! I hope you’ll check it out!

Amazon: http://bit.ly/AMZTAC
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/BNTACSet
iBooks: http://bit.ly/iBksTAC
Kobo: http://bit.ly/KoboTAC
All Romance Ebooks: http://bit.ly/AreTAC
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/SMWrdTAC
TreeonDeck

#WriteWed What to do next? & #HumpDay #ManWars

STRONGER THAN SIN Romantic SuspenseI have a dilemma. I just got the rights back to SINS OF THE FLESH and STRONGER THAN SIN.

For those of you who read the books, you may recall that these were more romantic suspense with paranormal elements than paranormal with romantic suspense.

Because they didn’t really fit into the paranormal genre, my editors asked me to ramp up that part of the story line and the Sin Hunters were born in THE LOST and THE CLAIMED.

Now here’s my dilemma: I was plotting out the next book in the series – THE SHATTERED. It was really leaning toward paranormal sci fi with the introduction of Hunters from an alternate universe.

Now that I have these rights back, I’ve been toying with the idea of directing the books and the Hunters back toward being more romantic suspense. My idea was to have humans discovering more about the Hunters and somehow posing a threat to the existence of the Hunter clans. I’d also still have to deal with Christopher’s psycho father, but that could be handled as part of the romantic suspense.

So what do you think? Alternate universe and heavy on the paranormal elements or romantic suspense with lighter paranormal elements.

This is your chance to decide how the series will continue and I’d love to have your thoughts on it!

While you’re pondering my dilemma, how about some #ManWars to help you past #Humpday. For those of you who don’t use Facebook, just leave a comment here for a chance to win the print copy of IMMORTAL TEMPTATION.

Website Design KISS

As you can see, we’ve got a whole new look to the site and a big thanks to the designer – MJ from Sizzle Designs. I absolutely love what she’s done and I hope you do as well. It’s clean, but its mood definitely reflects my romantic suspense and paranormals.

So there are a few little tweaks on things I didn’t think about immediately (sorry MJ!) and then there’s the reconstruction of the pages from the old website.

Why reconstruction? Well, I’ve learned a few things and also didn’t realize just how long it had been since I updated some of the pages. So little by little, I’ll be working on those, especially since I’ve got the second SINS book – STRONGER THAN SIN – due to be delivered later in the year.

Here’s what I’ve learned and will share with you in the hopes it will help you with your own website design.

  • Keep It Simple Stupid: Yep, I let my natural desire to bling just put way too much stuff on certain parts of the site. So to keep it looking clean and professional, I’m trying to unclutter.
  • Let the program do it for you: There’s a number of places where it would be way easier just to let programming bring in content. For example, on my Cook’s Treat page I’ve figured out how to feed in all the blog posts that had recipes. Much better than my remembering to code and add those blog posts every time. Now I’ve got to work on putting them in alphabetical order, but at least there’s no more recoding to do!
  • Forget about links to third party news articles: I’ve discovered that online newspapers, etc. don’t keep their articles up for long periods of time and the URLs no longer work. So, rather than having a lot of dead links (as I had on my Press Page), I’m going to just stick to mentioning the articles without a link. But if anyone knows of a good link checker, it would be greatly appreciated.
  • Don’t mention dates without a year!: I didn’t realize how many times I said, “this October” or similar and forgot to go back and update it later. So “this October” was actually like three Octobers ago! Be specific with dates or maybe better yet – if the date isn’t important, leave it out.
  • Using Categories Correctly: Remember that comment about letting the program do it. Well to do that you have to be consistent. WordPress and many other programs let you create “categories” for your links and blog posts. Be consistent when you use those so that you can pull up just the content you want rather than a mish-mosh of unrelated posts. Also, create categories that will actually assist you in gathering data for your website visitors.

Thanks for dropping by! I hope this Tuesday Tip was helpful!

Also, please be sure to drop by tomorrow to share some time with a wonderful friend and fellow author – Amanda McIntyre. Amanda will be sharing some of her recent exploits with us and anyone who leaves a comment on tomorrow’s blog by midnight EST will be eligible to win a SINS OF THE FLESH t-shirt!

Tortured by Amanda McIntyre

Thoughtful Thursday – Holiday Gift Giving

christmastree.jpg

Here’s a little holiday gift for you! I played Santa at the office this morning, giving a few little gifts to my support staff.

I like giving to people. Both material items, but also more importantly, things like love, support and hopefully, a shoulder when they need it.

This year the economy is a little worrisome, so I’m watching my pennies as most people are. If I knew what was happening with the car companies, it might make me spend a little more, which makes me wonder if Congress gave that a thought — how much money would be pumped into the economy if people thought there was a reasonable bail out in place.

But no bail out, so watching my spending. No bail out, so stocks are dropping, making me even more cautious.

Makes you wonder what these Congressional types are thinking, doesn’t it?

Wicked Wednesday – Second Chances and Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving TurkeyTomorrow is a very special day for me and for many of us in the U.S. – Thanksgiving – and so I hope you’ll understand why today is a Wicked Wednesday Thoughtful Thursday kind of melange. Tomorrow I’ll be busy cooking some goodies to take to my sister’s house where we’ll gather together to celebrate. On Friday, we’ll be celebrating the special day with my hubby’s family and I’m really looking forward to being with everyone.

Family is just one of the things for which I am thankful. A great hubby and daughter who amazes me and makes me happy at every turn.

Then there are my wonderful friends, too many to mention, which is a great thing. I know that working together we will accomplish wonderful things and help each other with our love, support, wisdom and guidance.

You guys, with all your fun notes and comments. I love being able to share time with you and so I’m thankful for the technology that makes that possible.

The publishers, editors, reviewers, booksellers, librarians, readers and all the others who make it possible to keep on writing.

Lots of things for which to be thankful.

SOLDIER'S SECRET CHILDWhen I started thinking about all for which I could give thanks and it being Wicked Wednesday, it also occurred to me that the latest release, SOLDIER’S SECRET CHILD, is also about thankful things. Friends like Jericho who offered to be Macy’s husband to help her with her troubled son. The love between Macy and her son, TJ, which never wavers despite their problems. The return of the hero in one piece from war and the possibility of becoming a family with Macy and TJ.

Here’s some of the reviews for SOLDIER’S SECRET CHILD which was also a Harlequin Top 10 “Giving” book this week.

    4 Stars from Romantic Times: More from the review to follow!

    4.5 Stars from Cataromance: “Intriguingly suspenseful plus overflowing with conflicting emotions, SOLDIER’S SECRET CHILD is poignantly compelling.”

And finally, because it is Wicked Wednesday, a little excerpt for you! May you all have a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving! See you Friday!


She handed him her mug and he piled up everything from the mess kits. Balancing it all, he went to the opening of the cave and the flow of air through that gap chilled the bare skin of his legs. Lucky for them, however, since that ventilation kept the cave free of the smoke and other toxins from their fire.

Easing through the gap, he used the rain water to rinse off their plates and after, to clean the coffee pot and refill it for the morning.

His shirt was damp by the time he was done and he was shivering. At his pack, he pulled off his shirt and grabbed a dry sweatshirt, slipped it on.

Macy had also changed into a different sweatshirt and lay by the fire, watching him. Her gaze wickedly tempting as he imagined lying beside her and shedding the clothes they were both using as defenses against their emotions.

He padded back to the fire and gave it one last poke. He would have to keep an eye on it during the night to make sure it was under control. Then he slipped into the sleeping bag beside her and lay his head on one of the pillows she had inflated.

A nice comfort considering the hard ground beneath them and the tarp which crinkled noisily as they moved about. Of course, he’d slept in worse conditions.

“It’s not so bad. We’re warm and dry,” he said, striving for neutral.

“I’m still a little chilled,” she admitted.

“We could zip the bags together and share our body heat,” he said before his brain had a second to think about the consequences of those actions.

Her eyebrows shot up in surprise at the suggestion and worry settled onto her face. She bit at her bottom lip and mulled over the suggestion before finally saying, “Do you think that’s a good idea?”

He thought about lying beside her. Remembered the press of her body against his last night and the softness of her cheek beneath his hand. He imagined the softness of her in other spots and immediately answered.

“It’s probably the worst idea I’ve ever had.”

She chuckled, shook her head and toyed with one of the ties on the sleeping bag. “I always knew you were an honest man.”

Honest? An honest man might confess to what he was feeling and the conflicting emotions she roused in him. But then again, he was an honorable men and surprisingly, honor sometimes meant being less than honest.

“I guess I should be glad you feel that way about me.”

Macy sensed hurt in his words and hadn’t meant to cause it. Cupping his cheek, the rough beard on his face rasped the palm of her hand. “I didn’t mean anything bad by it. I always admired you.”

“Did you? Lots of women thought I wasn’t a happily-ever-after kind of guy,” he said.

She thought back to those days and the women he had dated — none of them had been the kind to have lasting relationships with. Except her. Which made her wonder aloud, “Why me?”

A flush stained his face and he looked away at her perusal. “Why you? That night, you mean? Why you and not someone else?”

The words escaped her on a tortured breath. “Yes, why me?”

He met her gaze then, his resolute and hard. “I dated the kinds of girls who didn’t want commitment, but I knew you were different. I knew you and Tim . . . I had wondered for a while what it would be like if it was you and me.”

Much as she had questioned afterward what it would have been like if Fisher had been the kind of man to commit to someone. If it had been the two of them together.

“Do you ever think about it now? I mean, with the teaching offer and all . . .”

She couldn’t bear to look at him as she finished and concentrated on the ties of the sleeping bag, twirling them around and around her finger as she waited for his answer.

And then waited some more.

Finally, she had no choice but to meet his gaze.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“I’d like to think that maybe you had thought about it. About us,” she finally admitted, deciding that after eighteen years of doubt, it was time to put an end to it.

“I have, only now there’s TJ to consider as well. A son that I didn’t know that I had.”

“I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you before, but with Tim’s death and all that started happening afterward . . . I wasn’t sure TJ could handle that kind of revelation,” she admitted.

“And now?” Fisher asked and tipped her face up so he could search her features. “What makes now any different?”

Tears filled her eyes, but didn’t spill over as she said, “I always worried whenever you went on a mission. I prayed for you to be safe so that maybe one day you and TJ could get to know one another.”

“Did you maybe pray a little for yourself? That maybe one day you and I — ”

“Yes, I did,” she blurted out and shifted closer to him. Cupped his cheek and brought her lips close. “I prayed that one day you and I could finish what we started.”

“Then let’s finish it,” he replied. . .