I consider myself lucky have grown up in a house full of readers. Both of my parents enjoyed reading. Dinner table conversations were often about the books they were enjoying. They liked spy novels, but they also read mainstream fiction.
I loved horses when I was a kid. I must have read the entire black stallion series. Marguerite Henry, however, was my favorite author. I read Brighty of the Grand Canyon from cover to cover many times over. I also loved her Misty series. Beverly Cleary was another favorite. Beezus and Ramona are timeless.
I took English lit courses throughout high school. This introduced me to many different genres. Of course, some were more interesting than others. Oftentimes, however, my biggest challenge was putting the book down. Sometimes I wanted to keep going to the end, but I couldn’t get too far ahead of the rest of class.
As an adult, if you’ll pardon the pun, I fell in love with the romance genre. And, like my parents, I too enjoyed mainstream fiction. So, from time to time, I’d borrow one of their favorite novels. I think this is why my romance novels are similar to mainstream fiction. Authors such as Arthur Hailey and Peter Benchley must have influenced my writing.
I started writing novels because I wanted to write the books I’d enjoy reading. I wasn’t concerned about how many books I would sell, or if I would become rich and famous. (Not that I wouldn’t mind, but let’s be realistic.) What I’m trying to say is that I write out of my own love of reading. So I figured if I wrote the books I would enjoy reading, then others would enjoy reading them too. Turns out, I was right. I’m getting some wonderful feedback from you, my readers.
With only a few more chapters to write my next novel will soon be ready go to the editor. I am loving this story. It’s coming out much better than expected. It includes an amazing cast of characters, and it’s probably my most well researched book so far.
As my readers know, I put a lot of time and effort into making my storylines as realistic and believable as possible. And with this novel I’ve learned a lot about the television and movie industry. I also had to do some major revisions, but that’s okay. Each revision makes the story that much better. I also had to revamp my main antagonist.
As luck would have it, shorty after I decided to write a book about Hollywood, the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke. Interesting timing, but I didn’t want to emulate it in my novel. I opted instead to have my lead antagonist be more of a Roman Polanski. However, it came out a bit too creepy for my taste. After several revisions it was still too creepy, and I simply didn’t like it. So, I had to go back create more of a Hugh Hefner inspired character, along with a Marina Martindale twist. This time, it worked. Perfectly. Of course, he’s not my only villain, and as I’m wrapping up some of my loose ends another antagonist is poised and ready to strike. And that’s all I have to say about that.
If all goes according to plan, The Scandal will be available this summer.
I get a lot of nice feedback about my characters and I love them too, but let’s not forget my other characters. The nonhuman ones.
I love animals and I grew up around dogs and horses. So, it stands to reason that some of my characters are dogs and horses. And while they may not be as cunning as their human counterparts, dogs and horses do what dogs and horses do, and sometimes it creates problems for the protagonists. In The Reunion, a black mustang named Miss Mollie puts Gillian in a real jam. Her dachshund, Duke, also becomes the catalyst in a major life changing event. However, these animal characters can do good deeds as well. Some even end up being the unsung heroes in the story. Lurch, the lovable mutt in The Betrayal, helps save Emily’s life, while Lucy, Shane’s dog in The Stalker, becomes attached to Rachel, much to Shane’s chagrin. My upcoming book, The Scandal, will also have a canine character. This time it’s an English springer spaniel named Barney, who belongs to leading man Chuck.
Those of us who have pets will tell you they really are part of the family, and my two real-life dogs are no exception. Of course, they wish I’d spend less time writing and more time with them. In fact, if it were up to them, I’d dote on them twenty-four/seven. But lucky for them, they have a nice big cozy dog bed right next to my writing desk. Now, if only I could get them to give me feedback on my writing. Unfortunately, about the only words they really seem understand are, “eat,” “food,” and “treats.”
Along with Hollywood, my next book, The Scandal, is also set in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I lived in Colorado in the late 1990s, and it truly is a beautiful state.
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t left. However, circumstances were such at the time that I had no choice. Must be why I’ve used Colorado as a location in so many of my novels. It’s a way for me to go back and visit one of the most beautiful and scenic states in the country.
Like Telluride and Durango, Steamboat Springs is an old ranching and mining town that’s now a popular tourist destination. It’s a few hours’ drive from Denver and Colorado Springs. This makes it the perfect literary location as it’s easy for my characters to travel back and forth from those bigger cities to Steamboat Springs. It also has a cool sounding name.
Living in Arizona means I’m fortunate enough to be able visit Colorado, and a few years ago I took a trip there that included Steamboat Springs. Since that time I’ve acquired much better camera equipment, and I’ve learned how to shoot and edit video. I hope to return to Steamboat Springs sometime soon, for now I’ll end this post with a video I shot of southwestern Colorado, (under a different name.) It features Ouray, another beautiful mountain town that looks a little like Steamboat Springs.
My next book, The Scandal, begins in Hollywood. I’m having a blast writing it. Hollywood a bizarre place indeed. There’s no other place like it in the world. (Thank goodness!) Things happen there that you could never, ever, get away with anywhere else. This means that as writer, the sky’s the limit. My characters are doing all kinds of crazy stuff. No wonder I’m having so much fun writing this one.
The inspiration for this story goes back many years to when I was a young, budding artist. One of my cousins played on a soap opera. She was kind enough to allow me to draw the cover art for her fan club newsletter, and, when she left the show, she invited me to her wrap party.
Now, here’s something I bet you don’t know. Hollywood wrap parties are just like any other corporate employee party. The only difference is the faces are more recognizable. However, in my story, my character’s wrap party will be anything but boring.
I’ve created a lead character who’s very different from my cousin. She’s completely fictitious. And the title implies, she’ll be unwittingly caught up in a major Hollywood scandal. The rest of the story will focus on her struggle to reinvent herself and she’ll move on to a whole new chapter in her life. So stay tuned.
I once posted this meme on Facebook with the comment, “I swear, on everything that is holy, this story isn’t set in Washington, D.C.” People are getting the joke. They’re giving it a lot of likes.
All jokes aside, I keep my books politically neutral. I do so by design. It doesn’t matter if I’m conservative or liberal, roughly half of my fans will have the opposite point of view, and I don’t want to lose half of my fans.
As a fiction writer, my job is to entertain my readers. Period. I don’t tell them what to think or who to vote for. The whole idea of reading a novel is to take a break from reality for a little while. And in my humble opinion, the romance genre does this quite nicely. The focus is on the relationship between two people who’ve fallen in love. Romance includes a number of sub-genres; sweet romance, (no sex) sensual romance, erotica, and gay and lesbian. I happen to write sensual romance. It’s one of more popular styles of romance, again with the focus on the relationship between two lovers.
For those who are interested, there is a genre called, “political fiction.” Famous novels in the genre would include George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. I read both when I was in high school, and they are indeed interesting books. However, it’s not a genre that I choose to write.
Now that The Letter has been successfully launched, it’s time to start planning my next novel. And, as typically happens, my inspiration comes for the strangest places.
A few months back I was reminiscing about one of my cousins. Decades ago, she played on a soap opera. At the time I was a budding artist, and I created the cover art for her fan club newsletter. She invited me to visit the set. It was exciting indeed. Few people get to see what happens behind the scenes on a network television show. When she left the show, she invited me back for her final taping and her wrap party. What an amazing experience.
So fast forward to the present day. As I was reminiscing the thought hit me. Why not use the wrap party as a starting point for my next novel? Why not have my next leading lady be a successful actress who walks away from Hollywood for good? Then, a few weeks later, as I was still playing around with ideas, the Harvey Weinstein scandal erupted. I thought wow. Here’s even more inspiration for a good novel.
The working title is, The Scandal, although it’s subject to change. And, just so you know, the lead character will not bear any resemblance my cousin. My character is a unique individual with her own set of issues, and her life will be different from my cousin’s.
If all goes according to plan, The Scandal should be out in about a year. Give or take a couple of months.
My latest novel, The Letter, differs from my others. This time I didn’t kill any of the characters. Not one. And that’s a first for me.
Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not a sociopathic serial killer. At least not in the real world. But as a novel writer, I have to create conflict and drama in my stories to keep them interesting. And when it comes to creating drama, death is about as good as it gets.
Most of the time, the dearly departed is a notorious villain with whom karma has finally caught up with. Big time. In four of my novels a bad guy, or gal, got what was coming to them. The one exception was The Journey, where I had to kill a supporting character who I truly liked. So much so that I tried writing alternate scenes in which she didn’t die, but they just didn’t work as well. Killing this character off heightened the drama, which made the story more intense and a more interesting read. Nevertheless, having to write this character out made me feel genuinely sad.
There is one character in The Letter I thought of killing off. Like most of my “victims,” she was a despicable antagonist. However, unlike the others, this character also had a young child, and I simply couldn’t bring myself to create an orphan. So, this time, instead of an untimely if not painful death, it’s a terrifying near death experience. Surely you didn’t think I’d let a villain get away scot-free, did you?
While I wait for my latest novel, The Letter, to come back from the editor, I thought I’d do a minor edit on The Deception. The two stories are similar, and in the five years since I wrote The Deception, I’ve improved as a writer. I wanted to go back and tweak some of the text to make the story flow a little smoother. However, as I was working, I kept wondering where one of my scenes went. I recalled writing it, but I wasn’t seeing it. Short story long, it had somehow been overlooked when the book was typeset, and I had missed the error. Yikes!
Fortunately, it wasn’t a pivotal scene. In the missing chapter, one of the villains is arrested and carted off to jail. The villain has committed a serious crime. Thankfully, in a prior chapter, another character has come forward with enough evidence to guarantee a conviction. This meant it had already been established that the villain would end up in jail. Then, near the end of the book, the villain is seen appearing in court. The missing chapter, however, was a nice, “you had it coming,” moment. Readers would get to see the surprised villain put in handcuffs and hauled away.
The new, revised edition of The Deception, includes the missing chapter. It’s now available for the Amazon Kindle, and update the print edition will be available soon.
I’ve been busy putting the final touches on the first draft for my upcoming novel, The Letter, and I’m now in what I call, “the cleanup phase.”
Something has bothered me with many of the novels I’ve read. The author would reach the big climax scene, then, once it was over, shazam! Everything magically falls back into place right then and there. Then, one or two pages later, everyone rides off into the sunset. The end.
Wouldn’t it be great if real life was as simple?
I’ve always strived to make my stories as realistic and believable as possible, so I include a “cleanup phase,” after the big climax. This gives my characters a chance to deal with the aftermath of whatever happened during the climax. It can be as short as an epilogue, or as long as several chapters. If a character is injured, you’ll see his or her recovery. If a villain gets caught, you’ll find out how long the prison sentence is. If someone leaves town, he or she will have a chance to say goodbye. The leading characters will work out whatever unresolved conflicts they may have. In other words, I tie up of all the loose ends. I don’t write sequels. Therefore, I want each ending to be as complete, and as satisfying as possible for the reader.