Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Talk-Time - Romance – Why is it Relevant?

We're delighted to welcome Cynthia Eden to the Pink Heart Society as she talks about the relevance of romance today, complete with #GIVEAWAY...

I think I was twelve years old the first time I picked up a romance novel to read. I was in K-Mart, and the Harlequin Romance novel caught my eye as I was walking down the book aisle. I had no idea what to expect inside of that book—I bought the paperback because, quite simply, I love books, and back then I thought…here’s something new.

I went home and devoured the book. I instantly became addicted to romance books. Why? Because I loved the emotional intensity that I found in those pages. I loved the character development. I adored the twists and turns. And, most of all, I enjoyed the happily ever after ending.

Sure, there are plenty of people who will say that happy endings in romance novels aren’t realistic. Um, okay. You know what else isn’t realistic? All of the werewolf heroes that I’ve written about in my paranormal books. If I wanted realism, I’d be reading non-fiction novels. Real life is gritty enough—thanks so much—I prefer a bit of escapism.

I prefer my romance novels.

I believe romance novels are incredibly relevant today. The modern woman faces a million stresses in any given day—work, family, car pool, health issues (the list is endless). Isn’t it nice to have at least one area that is a safe zone? One place where you know…okay, this isn’t going to leave me wrecked. I can have a moment of happiness. I can feel contentment. Closure. I can have my romance. When our society overloads us, can’t we all use a bit of escapism?

And you know what else…let’s go back to the talk of “realism.” Because, yes, certainly, I write about paranormal creatures—but I also write novels about FBI agents, soldiers, fire fighters—and these men and women behave in realistic ways. They show the good that can be found in a loving, committed relationship. Do they make the emotion of love seem too strong? Too unattainable? I don’t think so…I think they make that emotion seem like a wonderful ideal for us. It’s great to be reminded that in dark moments, hope can exist…love can triumph.

Something else about romance novels that I just have to say…they aren’t all fluff and no substance. Quite the contrary. I actually feel like I learn something substantial from every single romance novel that I read. And I’m not just talking about emotional depth—I’m talking about real-life knowledge that can come in very handy. I thoroughly research my stories, and I know that other authors research theirs, too. So when I write about fire fighters and the fire triangle—this is material that I’ve studied. I can share this information with my readers and they can pick up tidbits that can be valuable to them. (For example, I often include self-defense techniques in my stories—I hope readers may remember a few of these techniques later on…)

Romance is relevant. To me. To you. And I hope that it always will be. So read your romances, enjoy the heck out of them…

And maybe you can teach others to love them, too.

So tell me…just why do you think romance is relevant? I’ll pick one random commenter to win a copy of my latest romantic suspense, BROKEN.

Cynthia's latest book, Broken, is available now:

Ex-SEAL and LOST founder Gabe Spencer is accustomed to the unusual in his job. But when knockout Eve Gray steps into his office, he’s rattled. For the mysterious woman is a dead ringer for the heiress thought to be the latest prey of the serial killer who goes by the name Lady Killer.

When Eve awoke in an Atlanta hospital, her past was a blank slate. Then she recognized her own face in the newspaper and vowed to learn the truth. Determined to confront the nightmares hidden in her mind, she never expects to find a partner in Gabe.

As Gabe and Eve work together, their explosive attraction becomes irresistible. Gabe knows that his desire for Eve is growing too strong, bordering on a dangerous obsession, but nothing pulls him away from her. And when another Eve lookalike disappears, Gabe vows to protect Eve at all costs. While Eve may have forgotten the killer in her past, it’s clear he hasn’t forgotten her.

For more about Cynthia Eden and her books, check out her website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Weekend Wildcard - Books, Romance & Adventures

We're delighted to welcome Jane Porter to the Pink Heart Society today, as she talks about how meeting her husband, and the travels that followed, changed her life and her writing...

I met my surfer husband, Ty Gurney, when I was in Hawaii eleven years ago, holed up in the gorgeous Halekulani Hotel on Oahu, trying to finish The Sheikh’s Disobedient Bride for Harlequin Presents. The hotel is five stars and all about discrete attention and VIP service...and romance. 

But I was there in the early stages of my divorce, and alone, and certainly not enjoying Hawaii, or romance. And then I met Ty, and he changed my trip, my outlook, and even my career, giving me an idea for a story (Flirting with Forty) that would become my most popular novel ever.  
 
He would also change my life...but I didn’t know it yet.  
 
What did I know that April morning in 2004? I knew that Ty was young, tan, muscular, sexy and dangerous. He was a risk taker and embraced all things physical. I was—am—a classic book girl. I read and imagine things (including romance and hot sex) but I don’t actually do all those things I write about.  
 
Well, Ty changed that. And inspired a book. The book became a movie. And then his zest for life (and motorcycles) inspired Odd Mom Out. We continued to date, and then bought a house in Waikiki, and after three years of trying, had a baby when I was 45, and then when Mac was 2, we finally got married. We’ve done everything out of order but it has worked, and now each September we celebrate our Las Vegas Elvis style wedding, with an anniversary trip to somewhere on our bucket list of places we must see.  
 
Morocco has been a dream destination for years...back before I wrote my first Harlequin Presents. I’ve written dozens of sheikhs for Harlequin (including my newest, His Defiant Desert Queen, March ’15 and the second book in my Copeland mini-series) and Morocco has featured prominently in all of them, so this past September Ty and I flew to Heathrow, then connected from Galway into Marrakesh, flying over part of the 2,400 kilometers of the Atlas Mountains located in the northwestern corner of Africa. These beautiful rugged red mountains stretch through Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia and are a forty-five minute drive outside Marrakesh.
 
Our first three nights were spent in Marrakesh, at a former private villa, giving us plenty of time to tour museums and gardens and the crowded shopping medina. I’ve written about the medina in my Presents, and I’d heard that the shopping bazaars in the old town centers are loud and crowded, but it was even more overwhelming than I imagined. 
 
It turns out I don’t like haggling (at all), and I didn’t enjoy the constant shouts to stop and look and buy. The introvert in me emerged so I grabbed Ty’s arm and stayed close to him as we wandered through the hot medina, passing through souvenir stalls, goatskin tanneries, chicken sellers, and carts of hot grilled meats.  
 
I am glad to have experienced Marrakesh, but was really happy to set off for our next stop: Sir Richard Branson’s Kasbah Tamadot in the mountain village of Asni, an area inhabited by Berbers for the past thousand years.  
 
I confess, being in the Kasbah was a bit like being Cinderella at the ball. It was gorgeous, and luxurious and lots of A-list stars and jet-set celebrities stay at the Kasbah, so for three nights I pretended to be one, too.  
 
It wasn’t hard, either, with all the pampering. We ate our dinners on the Kasbah’s rooftop garden, and lounged by the pool during the hottest part of the day. In the mornings I wrote in the library while Ty hiked in the mountains.
 
I left Morocco relaxed, and spoiled, hopeful that I captured the exotic beauty of the real Morocco in my newest Presents. If you haven’t yet read His Defiant Desert Queen, you can find a long excerpt (http://janeporter.com/bookshelf/defiant.php#excerpt) on my website. The blurb is below!  
 
I always love hearing from readers so if you pick up a copy of His Defiant Desert Queen, do write and let me know what you think, and in the meantime, I’ve a little Morocco Magic Giveaway for one of you!  
 
To enter, tell me about a place on your bucket list. Where are you dreaming of going one day? Contest closes....XY...
Jane's newest Harlequin Presents novel, His Defiant Desert Queen is available now:
 
I will not marry you. I will not!  
 
When Sheikh Mikael catches notorious model Jemma Copeland flaunting Saidia’s laws—and her body—in his desert, he knows one thing: revenge against his family’s destruction is within his reach! To achieve it he makes Jemma an offer: imprisonment or marriage.  
 
With her life shattered by the scandal that rocked her family, Jemma needed that modeling job. She didn’t know that she was breaking the law! But Mikael’s outrageous proposal pushes her beyond shock…to utter fury. If he expects her to be a meek, pliable bride, this arrogant sheikh has another think coming!

To find out more about Jane Porter, visit her website and her blog, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Writer's Workspace - Deb Kastner

Deb Kastner is here at the Pink Heart Society to talk about her (lack of) work space, in the hope that it might encourage others who might not have ideal situations to think outside the box and pursue their dreams.

I almost had an office. 

Once.

For about five seconds.  

Seeing as I have three young adult children, I rather expected my nest would be empty and my chicks would have flown away by now. I anticipated a life-change with a bittersweet mixture of emotions. I’d have more freedom, more room to move and less noise. More time to devote to my writing or just kicking back and watching a movie without interruption. But I knew I’d miss being needed, and loved on, and I’d miss, well—the noise.  

One by one, my daughters perched on the edge and dove off into the unknown—swirled around in the sky, hit turbulence and then promptly returned to the nest. With two grandchildren in tow. And one spouse. And three dogs (when I already have two of my own.) I’m proud of each of my girls for their strength in dealing with extraordinarily tough life issues and I love everybody dearly, really I do, but my grand plans for turning one of my offspring’s bedrooms into an office? Yeah—not so much. 

With a bazillion people and a total of five dogs in a modest three-bedroom home, finding room to write among the chaos has been a challenge. I suppose I could use that as an excuse not to write, but I make do with what I have. My favorite place to write is a comfy, beat-up old recliner where I can stare out the front window. Not a great view, but if I open the curtain there’s sunshine. 


And dogs.



Lots of dogs.


The hallway leading into my bedroom serves as my plotting board:

 
When I get really desperate or am on a tight deadline, I lock myself in my room.  


With headphones. And The Texas Tenors.  


Well, yes, I mean, they’re eye candy, obviously, but I listen to them, too. Ear candy. And just what I need to drown out the bedlam.  

No fancy office. No scenic mountain cabin. No seaside manor. I rely on my imagination to take me to far off places. That and the occasional vacation. But that’s a post for another day.

Do you have a special workspace to get you in the mood for writing, or are you like Deb and just need a nook or cranny where you can hide from the bedlam?  Join the discussion in the comments!

Deb's latest book, The Cowboy's Forever Family, is available now:

Widowed and pregnant, Laney Beckett wants nothing to do with stubborn rodeo cowboy Slade McKenna. But avoiding her late husband's best friend is nearly impossible now that Slade thinks Laney and her baby need his protection. 

Though Slade figures he's too rough a man to settle down, his thrill-seeking ways have already cost him his childhood pal. Looking out for the man's wife and child is the least he can do, especially when headstrong Laney doesn't know the first thing about running the family's ranch. 

For the sake of baby Beckett, Laney and Slade give friendship a chance…but could they become a true family?

For more information about Deb Kastner, check out her website, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Little Something for the Weekend - Redemption Stories

Guest author Brenda Novak is here at the Pink Heart Society, talking about redemption stories and her ex-con heroine Phoenix Fuller...

I love nothing more than a hard-won happily-ever-after. Maybe that’s why I gravitate toward redemption stories. 

At some point, we’ve all done something we regret, created some challenge or obstacle we struggle to overcome. 

I think anyone who's ever rooted for the underdog can understand the appeal of a redemption story. Who doesn't love a "come from behind" win? A David that champions over a Goliath? 

There's just something inspiring about seeing a character overcome tremendous challenges, especially when those challenges were caused by his or her own mistakes. It takes courage to face up to our own shortcomings--to acknowledge them and overcome them, and it's encouraging to see it done in fiction. 

That's why I often use such flawed characters in my work. Not only are they more realistic to the human experience, they're more interesting than some perfect human prototype.

In This Heart of Mine, the latest addition to my Whiskey Creek series, Phoenix Fuller has been through quite a bit. She’s even served time. Now she’s out of prison and finally has a chance to make good, and she’s determined to do it. She’s different and admirable, but no one can see the admirable part at first, which is what makes the discovery of her true character so fun—and what made her such an interesting personality to create.

I’m often asked which of all my books is my favorite (I’ve now written over 50 stories!). That’s sort of like trying to choose a favorite child. (I have five kids, so I really relate to this analogy.) 

But there are stories that resonate a bit more strongly with me as I write them—and This Heart of Mine was one of those. It was a rare “gift” book, meaning it came easily. Of course, I’d been imagining the story for some time, was really looking forward to getting to this particular installment in the Whiskey Creek saga, so that could be one of the reasons. Perhaps my subconscious had already done most of the work.

Allow me to introduce you to Phoenix through a short excerpt:

It was the first time she’d seen her son since the day she gave birth to him. Phoenix Fuller had spent an eternity waiting for this moment. She’d counted every single breath, it seemed, for sixteen years, waiting to lay eyes on Jacob again.
But as anxious as she was, she’d promised herself she wouldn’t cry, or try to hug him, or do anything else that might make a teenage boy feel uncomfortable. She was a stranger to him. Although she hoped to change that now that she was back in town, she couldn’t come on too strong or he’d likely shut her out—even if his father didn’t make sure he kept her at arm’s length. She had to be an embarrassment to both of them. They were all from the same small town; it wasn’t as if they could hide the fact that she’d spent Jacob’s entire life in prison.
Her heart leaped into her throat as she watched Jacob and his father, Riley Stinson, get out of a large Ford pickup and stride toward the entrance of the restaurant.
God, her son was tall, she thought, hungrily devouring the sight of him. How he’d gotten so big, she had no idea. She barely topped five feet. Even at thirty-five, she could be mistaken for a much younger person when she wasn’t wearing makeup and had her hair pulled back.
But Jacob took after his father in size and shape, had the same broad shoulders, narrow hips and long legs.
“Excuse me. Your table’s ready whenever you are.”
Phoenix wouldn’t have heard the hostess if the woman hadn’t touched her arm when she spoke.
It required real effort, but she dragged her gaze away from the window in order to respond. “Thank you. The rest of my party will be here in a second.”
“That’s fine. Just let me know when you’re ready.” With a polite smile, the young woman seated a couple standing nearby.
Once again, Phoenix’s eyes were riveted on her son. Only this time, she felt such a surge of emotion she almost darted into the bathroom. She could not break down.
Please, God, don’t let me cry. He won’t come within ten feet of me if I do.
But the harder she tried to hold back her tears, the more overwhelmed she became. In a panic, she slipped around the corner, into the small alcove by the bathrooms, and leaned her head against the wall.
Breathe. Don’t blow this.
The bell over the door jingled, telling her that Riley and Jacob had stepped inside. She imagined them looking around, maybe getting annoyed when they didn’t find her. But she was frozen in place. She absolutely could. Not. Move.
“Hey,” she heard the hostess say with a familiarity that hadn’t been present in her greeting to Phoenix. “We’re busy this morning, like we are every Saturday. But if you can wait for a few minutes, I’ll get you a table.”
“We’re actually meeting someone who should be here.”
That had to be Riley, but Phoenix couldn’t say she recognized his voice. Her memories of him were vivid. But they’d both been so young, and he’d changed a great deal. No longer the skinny teenager she’d known in high school, he was a man with plenty of hard muscle on his solid frame, a man in his prime, and that had been more than apparent as she’d watched him walk, shoulder to shoulder, with their son a few seconds earlier.
“Who are you here to meet?” the hostess asked.
“Name’s Phoenix Fuller,” came his response.
“What does she look like?”

“I’m not sure these days,” he said, and Phoenix winced. Her shoulder-length dark hair wasn’t bad. It was thick, probably her best asset. Her hazel eyes weren’t unattractive, either. She didn’t feel she was ugly. But the scars on her face would be new to him. She hadn’t had those when she went to prison.
“She wasn’t very tall,” he added, as if that might be the only detail still applicable.
“There was a woman who said she was expecting two more to join her,” the hostess said. “But I don’t know where she went...”
Determined not to miss this opportunity after waiting so long for it, Phoenix curved her fingernails into her palms, took a deep breath and stepped around the corner. “Sorry I...I had to wash my hands.”

For those of you familiar with my latest series, you know it’s centered on a close-knit group of friends—both male and female—who’ve grown up together in the small Gold Country town of Whiskey Creek. 

Although it’s technically a fictional town, it’s based on the real towns that were founded when gold was discovered in California, and it still retains its character, despite the passage of the years. Consider yourself formally invited to visit! 

The complete list of Brenda Novak's Whiskey Creek series is available on her website, with the first two—When Lightning Strikes and When Snow Falls—on sale now.  This Heart of Mine is her latest: 

As the daughter of a hoarder, Phoenix Fuller had a tough childhood. So when the handsome, popular Riley Stinson became her boyfriend in high school, she finally felt as though she had something to be proud of. Phoenix was desperate not to lose him—especially once she found out she was pregnant. Yes, she might have acted a bit obsessive when he broke up with her. But she did not run down the girl he started dating next.

Unfortunately, there was no way to prove her innocence. Now, after serving her time in prison, Phoenix has been released. All she wants to do is return to Whiskey Creek and get to know her son. But Jacob’s father isn’t exactly welcoming.

Riley doesn’t trust Phoenix, doesn’t want her in Jacob’s life. He is, however, ready to find someone to love. And he wants a good mother for his son. He has no idea that he’s about to find both!
 
Brenda would love to get acquainted with you, too. You can find out more about her me on her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Fun - Fairy Tales

Desere Steenberg is talking to the Pink Heart Society about fairy tales...

Ever wondered what it would be like if real life was a fairy tale, well I have, countless time over! In my dreams I have been Snow White, Cinderella, Belle and yes even Ariel.  Or how about if fairy tales were like real life?

If Real Life Was Like A Fairy Tale

Instead of having to head out in search of the perfect dress for that rocking party , you could simply call on your fairy god mother , literally five minutes before the party starts and she’ll transform you into a goddess looking like you just stepped out from the pages of an Elle magazine!  No mess, no fuss, no going from store to store, no having to sit for half the day to get hair , make-up and nails done. 

Or how about the office hunk you've flirted with for ages, showing up looking like sex on legs instead of wearing jeans that so do not have any form of a tight fit, flip-flops and so not looking like the hot-always in-a-killer-suit-and-tie – guy from the office.  Prince Charming definitely!

Or if your guy would really pay attention and really listen to everything you say, hello Mr. Beast, thank you for my library!  And of course if the date is a total failure ( like that ever happens in fairy tales)  we would not be left stranded or have some idiot driver whoosh by and hit that “ When the heck did it rain?” puddle and leave us looking like date-zilla. No, we would simply run outside and our transport would be waiting for us!

If Fairy Tales Were Like Real Life

Now if fairy tales were real life, well Cinderella would not have lost her shoe, nope the darn thing would have broken either a clasp or a heal, and well she would have no other choice but to have gone barefoot. Mr. Beast would definitely not have heard a word Belle said or paid any attention to her and why she loves books, nope instead he would hammer down on the fact that he’s a beast in bed and outside the bedroom he could not really give a rats behind what you do or don’t do as long as it’s within his domain and of course don’t you dare step outside.  

Prince Charming would show up looking all laid back and like he’s about to hit the beach instead of taking you out for the night. It would take you literary the whole day to get every type of magical transformation done and find that killer right dress.  

And all kinds of animals flocking to sing with you, yeah right! The deer would run as far and wide as possible most likely trampling one of the dwarfs in the process, and the skunk would instead of being all kind and helpful, he would really let it rip and no little dip in the river would wash that stench away.  And let’s face it Aurora would wake up looking like an utter complete wreck!

Now let’s not forget Ariel , yeah I always wanted to be a mermaid, swimming along with not a care in the world, and dreams of walking on land. Reality is, of course, if Ariel really did hit land,  she would constantly be stuffing her face with seafood, and boy oh boy do I think she would really start to smell after a few days because hello taking a bath and protecting her secret , not a possibility! And her loving Prince would most likely be the one to snap the pics and splash ( splash haha) it all over social media.

Speaking of social media here are some ideas of what fairy tale characters might have said if they were real:

@PrinceCharmingTheSnowWhiteVersion: “Heading out to look for a chick in a coffin, would so rather be drinking!”

@CinderellaattheBall: “At the ball, man this dress is uncomfortable, next time I am calling Versace!"

@Bellelovesbooks: “Finally got that personal library, but there’s only a 1000 books, NEED MORE!”

@AurorathesleepingBeauty: "Woke up to some creepy guy kissing me, hello sexual harassment case!"   

Tell us in the comments if any of your dates have ever played out like a fairy tale or if instead it was the perfect version of a real life disaster. 

To find out more about Desere, you can read her romance reviews on Romance Book Haven, and follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Time Out Thursday - Annie West's Passion for Flowers

It's time for Time Out Thursday, here on the Pink Heart Society, and Annie West is talking about her love of flowers...

It's autumn here in Australia, which is always such a wonderful time in the garden. I think spring and autumn are my favourite seasons, and they always entice me away from my desk and my writing to enjoy the outdoors. 

You see, I'm an almost gardener. 

I grew up among gardeners so I spent a lot of time outdoors in our rambling garden, which included an ancient rainforest gully as well as a mini orchard and terraces where previous owners had grown flowers to sell. 

When we travelled I'd always hear comments about the type of wattle (acacia) that was flowering at the time, or be taken to admire some spectacular private garden in full bloom and of course I learned to identify at least some of the local Australian flowers while bushwalking. 

Gardening is in my blood and I love gardens, but as for being greenfingered...well, it's a bit hit and miss!

As the daughter of a one time florist, I have a particular love of flowers. Yes, I have a few rose bushes, though the climate isn't ideal for them here on the coast. No, I no longer have neat garden beds of flowers. I did that in a previous home (with a different climate) and cultivated everything from daffodils to Japanese windflowers and peonies. Now my garden is very large and lush, but surrounded by big gum trees so it's more of the 'natural' (green and overgrown) look than a flower garden.

Nevertheless, I adore my flowers when they show themselves. I love the huge variety of flowers from delicate looking roses or even humble pansies to lilies and fragrant swathes of bluebells and all sorts of things in between. They always make me smile - a sure fire way to feel better when things aren't going so well. Here are a few photos I've taken in recent months (some in my garden and some elsewhere).

This oriental lily is called Stargazer and I love watching it emerge.
An Australian Waratah, state floral symbol of New South Wales
Wistaria. We had a tunnel of this in our backyard when I was little. Absolutely gorgeous scent!
Ornamental cherry - a real sign of spring
And here's a photo I took this morning - one of my favourite hibiscuses.

Do you have a love of flowers? Do you have a garden to potter in and grow your own? Or do you only get up close to cut flowers in bouquets? Or are you sadly allergic to them? I'd love to hear about your favourites!

Annie's latest book is a Mills and Boon Modern, Harlequin Presents called The Sheikh's Princess Bride.  It's the second in her Desert Vows duet (after The Sultan's Harem Bride).  

It is available now from Harlequin, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Book Depository.  Here's a taste:
 
Wanted: royal bride and mother

For Sheikh Tariq of Al-Sharath, one miserable marriage was enough. With a kingdom to rule, he has no time—or wish—to find a bride, but his children need a mother.

Could Princess Samira of Jazeer be the answer? Samira has sampled passion, and it left a bad taste. With the knowledge she can't have the children she's always wanted, Samira steps into Tariq's ready-made family. Her only condition? No sex!
 
Samira thought royal duties and her love for Tariq's children would fill the hole in her heart, but a craving is building that only the sheikh's touch can cure… 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Writer's Wednesday -- The Learning Curve

Today Pink Heart Society editor Jeannie Watt talks about the learning curve in her early writing attempts.

I have a binder on my bookshelf called “Early Stuff”. I never touch it; however, I can’t bring myself to toss it. I don’t want to destroy the evidence of the long and sometimes painful process that made me an author. I don’t really want to read it either. Too cringe-worthy.

The thing about writing is that you hear all this advice and you think you have a grasp on it, when often you don’t. Or at least that’s how it was for me. Conflict was the most difficult thing for me to conquer.

Let’s use one of my very early stories as an example. And just so you know, I don’t beat myself up for missing a few subtle points—such as kidnapping is bad—because I was doing my best at the time using what I knew.  But I might blush a little.

So in this early story, which I plotted after several years of reading all the Harlequin Presents I could get my hands on,  I have this set up that I think is brilliant. My heroine is a paparazzi-like photographer who specializes in photographing this one particular sports hunk. She’s driving him crazy. So crazy that when he catches her photographing him when he’s about to helicopter in to his remote family cabin, he stalks up to her, grabs her and hauls her into the helicopter with him. (Hullo…kidnapping…) 

They fly to his remote cabin (the pilot was apparently unconcerned about being an accessory to kidnapping) and then there they are. I have to come up with some kind of stuff for them to do, so I have the heroine accidentally burn down the cabin. Now they’re really in trouble, stranded in the wilderness together. They’re sniping at each other while kind of noticing that the other one is hot and then….

And then….

I had no idea.

I thought about lightning storms and broken legs, but ultimately I had nothing for them to do except to dodge disaster. They had external conflict, but they  didn’t have any personal goals, motivations or faulty emotional survival strategies. I’d never heard of these things because this was pre-internet days. I knew what I loved about romance, but I couldn’t yet replicate it, because I hadn’t completely deconstructed it.

I hadn’t yet figured out  that I not only had to give my characters a reason to be at each other’s throat, but that they both had to learn and grow from their experiences together. 

They had to examine their current emotional survival strategies and realize they weren’t working any longer. They had to face down a fear in order to live a more emotionally satisfying life. They not only had to deal with serious external conflicts—they had to change enough to do something that was really, really tough for them emotionally. Something they couldn’t have done at the beginning of the book. Something that they would have scoffed at.  “Oh, yeah. I’m going to bare my soul in public to win a woman. Uh huh…”

Once I finally figured out that I had to torture my characters internally more than externally, my writing took off.  I still love a good cabin-burning and helicopter kidnapping, but now the real meat of the story is the heroine finding the strength to stop holding herself aloof as a way of protecting herself, or the hero accepting that he’s never going to undo damage he once did, but that he still deserves a chance at happiness.

And if I get to have one of them burn down a cabin to get to that point—hurray! 


What aspect of the writing process has been most difficult for you to master?

Jeannie Watt writes fast paced, character driven stories set in the American West. To find out more about Jeannie and her books, please visit her website or her Facebook page. Her next book, To Tempt a Cowgirl, will be released in July 2015.