by Rebecca J. Clark

Characters are kinda like your kids—you can tell them what to do, but they don’t always do it. In fact, sometimes they do
the exact opposite of what you told them to do.

I’m experiencing that right now. I’m working on the follow up to my best-selling book Borrowed Stilettos (we’ll call this WIP Stilettos #2). It’s supposed to be a steamy book, yet I’d reached the midpoint and they hadn't yet had sex. I’d tried to get them to do it earlier, but they had other plans. In fact, they seemed interested in doing everything but sex. That’s a problem in a steamy romance where readers expect sex. And lots of it.

Well—finally--they did it. Whew and hooray! But now they won’t stop. They did it on the living room floor. Okay, great. We’re good for now. But no. They had to do it in the shower. Then in the car. I’m like, “Come on, you guys! You have an interesting story to tell that doesn’t involve being naked.” So then they kept their clothes on and had sex again.

Sheesh! What’s an author to do?

I decided to let them have their way. They can have as much
sex as they want, in as many places as they want, in as many positions as they want.

But when it’s time for revisions, I’M in charge. You hear that Ava and Rod? You can have your fun now, but it’ll be up to ME if I share all your escapades with my readers.

So, dear readers, I’ll ask you: Am I being too hard on my poor hero and heroine? Is there really such a thing as “too many sex scenes” in a steamy romance novel? Or should I just let them have their fun?

Rebecca J. Clark is the best-selling author of Borrowed Stilettos and the Passionate Kisses boxed set (still just 99 cents for 10 novels!!!)

How Do You Choose?

So many books - so little time!
We are so lucky to have so many options when choosing what books to buy next and I’m curious about what makes a reader buy one book over another.   Is it the cover image that grabs your attention?  Book description?  Or first few pages?  How about reviews?  Or word of mouth from friends?

I recently spoke on a panel at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference where we discussed elements of a page-turner, and not necessarily just thrillers or suspense, but what keeps a reader turning the page and engaged in a story.  We all agreed that with so many choices these days, it’s important to grab the reader and keep her reading through to the very end. 

So let’s say you’re interest has been piqued by a great cover and you move onto the intriguing description.  What’s next?

Our job as authors is to draw in the reader as quickly as possible.  What are some thing things we use to do this?  Let’s see, conflict, sympathetic characters, emotionally charged situations and great dialogue are a few things that make a compelling read.

The Wife Project opens with dialogue.
I strive to create characters that the reader can connect with and root for.  That doesn’t mean they’re all likable, or good people necessarily, although generally speaking the hero must be.  For a reader to engage with the story she has to deeply care about something.  There’s nothing worse than being 25 pages into a book and realizing you’re not emotionally invested in any of the characters, especially the hero and heroine!  Ugh.  At that point one of many other distractions—Facebook, text messages, e-mail, Twitter—seem way more interesting than finishing the book,

Another important element of a compelling book is conflict.  Conflict is like the fuel that keeps your car running.  Good conflict can even grow and change throughout the course of the book, which really keeps things interesting.  But yes, in every scene there needs to be some kind of conflict or something at stake, to keep the reader engaged.

Then there’s fresh dialogue.  There’s nothing like a page or two of dialogue to really speed up a story.  Good dialogue needs few dialogue tags (said, uttered, asked) because the characters are so real you know who’s talking without the tags.  This is a true gift and it really keeps the reader engaged.

These are few of my personal favorites.  How do you choose your books and what keeps you reading?  Can you think of good examples of books with exceptional conflict or dialogue?  I’d like to add them to my reading list.


Pat White

Writing and Summer--Do You?

Today on the warm sand of summer we have author Kim Hornsby, who co-incidentally has a free book offered only this day (Monday July 10-12th). Read on...

Happy Summer Everyone! (Except those in the other hemisphere). What kinds of fun things do you do in the summer? Go to the beach? Garden? Pick raspberries and make jam? Write novels?

I don't write in the summer. I don't need to. You see, I live in Seattle and when the rains come and stay for eight months I need something to keep me from upping my dose of crazy medicine to survive the grey winter. But when the sunshine and warm weather arrives, I head outside. I can't even see the computer screen outside so writing takes a back seat in the summer. Imagine a 12 passenger van and writing is in the last row. Kids are in the first row. I have two of those and although the 17-year-old boy doesn't need much, I remain available to make him food, talk to him when he wanders through the kitchen on his way to the refrigerator, watch World Cup games with him. The twelve-year-old girl needs more of me when school is not in session. I'm like Julie on The Love Boat, organizing activities, keeping the fun coming until Labor Day and the onset of school allows me some rest.

This summer so far we've been boating/tubing, camping for 3 days with her friends, horseback riding, picked berries/made jam, Fourth of July picnic with fireworks, movies, hiking, bike riding, and today we are going mini golfing with her bestie.

   Raspberry Picking in Carnation WA

The Seattle Space Needle -- complete with lunch at the top!

All this to keep her off the laptop for at least 8 hours a day. The Zoo, the lake, street fairs, concerts...

I don't have time or the mind control and imagination to write when the weather is nice. All my brain cells are going into how to make summer the best months of the whole year for my family.
Even the dogs get more of me than writing in the warm months. I just made them a sand pit in the backyard because they love the beach so. The pit is beside their plastic pool that I spray daily to keep algae from forming.

Summer is the time when I yearn to write, chomping at the gate like a racehorse, waiting for September when I'll burst through and start writing again. This denial I put myself through makes me hungry to fashion a story, put words to paper, live inside my head for a few weeks, months. But summer is not for writing over here. I barely touch the keys in July and August. Tell myself to stay away from the computer. No siree. You won't see me on the computer. Well maybe in the early morning hours when everyone is sleeping in, I'll sneak in a few words.

How about you? Do you write in the summer?

Kim Hornsby is the Bestselling Author of THE DREAM JUMPER'S PROMISE voted Top Pick in Chanticleer Review's Paranormal Awards for Mystery/Thriller.