Writing contemporary romance has its perks. One of my favorites is putting on my movie producer hat, such as it is, and creating a book trailer video. I get together with a few friends, such as Rob Resetar, who has helped me produce all my book trailers. We hire a few actors, we borrow people’s houses, and then we play movie makers for a day. It’s so much fun, and we don’t take ourselves overly seriously.
My latest contemporary romance novel, The Letter, is a story of misunderstandings and people who aren’t who they appear to be. Stephanie and Danny have been together for sometime. She wants to know where their relationship is going while he is happy with the status quo. Unfortunately for Danny, Stephanie accidentally stumbles on a love letter from Martha, his old flame, and she’ll soon jump to the wrong conclusion.
Rob also creates original musical scores for all of my book trailer videos, and this is my favorite so far. Seelie Studios assisted with the casting, and I’m very pleased this video. I hope you’ll enjoy watching it.
Ask any fiction author. They’ll tell you characters have minds of their own. Believe me, I have experienced this phenomenon many times myself. There’ve been many times when a character came out differently than planned, and it’s always been for the better.
Villains in particular have a certain quality about them. They’re typically more complex, more charismatic and, for lack of a better word, sexy. Jeremy Palmer in my debut contemporary romance novel, The Reunion was the first. Originally intended to be a rogue character who would do his dirty deed and disappear, Jeremy ended up having a special charisma. He went from being a rouge to becoming a rival who would compete with his father to win Gillian’s affections. Josh Ramsey in my later contemporary romance novel, The Letter was intended to be a conman. Then the chemistry between him and Stephanie unexpectedly sizzled. So I revamped him into a mystery man.
I strive to make my villains as despicable as I can. There’s nothing more fun than seeing a villain we love to hate get their comeuppance. Some of my more dastardly villains include Scott Andrews in my contemporary romance novel, The Deception. Scott was a married man presenting himself as a single man to entice unsuspecting single women. Then there’s Beau Fowler, the corrupt detective in The Betrayal. He tried to frame an innocent woman for a crime she didn’t commit. And finally, there’s Craig Walker, the sociopathic villain in The Stalker. He’ll resort to kidnapping and murder to get what he wants.
Now it’s happening again. This time it’s Calvin Michaelson, in my upcoming contemporary romance novel, The Scandal. Cal’s a Hollywood mogul with a reputation as a playboy. Intended to be a despicable villain for readers to hate, his character became more dynamic than expected. He too is being revamped. He’ll still be a playboy, but at the end of the story a new and completely unexpected side to Cal will be revealed.
I often include major holidays in my contemporary romance novels. In The Letter,Stephanie spends a bittersweet Easter with her new boss and his husband while Danny finally realizes the time has come for him to make some changes.
Sometimes I’ll have one idea in mind for a character, but as I get into the story, the character has other ideas. Such was the case with Jeremy Palmer in The Reunion. Now it happened again with Josh Ramsey in my more recent contemporary romance novel, The Letter.
Young and ambitious, Josh is a financial planner by day, an artist by night. His goal is to retire young and devote himself full-time to his art. Like Jeremy, Josh was meant to an antagonist, but as the character came to life he turned out to be quite charming. I soon realized he had the potential to go much farther than originally planned. That’s when I really started liking him, so I created an aura of mystery about him. Whose side is he really on? Is he friend or foe? He’s actually a little of both, and his true intentions are revealed in an ending far different than what I had originally planned. This is what makes writing fun. Those characters, and storylines, that don’t come out as planned. They come out much, much better.
Now, just so you know, Josh is a purely fictitious character and not inspired by anyone I’ve known in real life.
Along with Hollywood, my next contemporary romance novel, The Scandal, is also set in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I lived in Denver in the late 1990s, and Colorado truly is a beautiful state. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t left. However, circumstances were such that I had no choice. Must be why I’ve used Colorado as a location in three of my other contemporary romance novels. The Reunion is set in Denver and Steamboat Springs. The Journey takes place in multiple locations, including Denver and Steamboat Springs, while The Letter is set in Denver.
Like Telluride and Durango, Steamboat Springs is an old ranching and mining town that’s become a popular tourist destination. It’s about a four hour drive from Denver, which makes it the perfect literary location as it’s easy for my characters to travel back and forth from Denver to Steamboat Springs. It also has a cool sounding name. No doubt I’ll use Colorado as a location in future contemporary romance novels. It’s a way for me to go back and visit one of the most beautiful and scenic places in the country.
Unlike most of my antagonists, Martha Morrison, from my contemporary romance novel, The Letter, isn’t an evil person. She is, however, extremely annoying. The kind of person who gets under your skin like a bad rash.
Martha only dated Danny for a few weeks. He told her upfront there would be no strings attached. Lonely and vulnerable, Martha ignored Danny’s conditions and latched onto him, believing he was the man she was destined to spend her life with. Unfortunately for Martha, Danny soon met Stephanie and ended his relationship with her. But even if Stephanie hadn’t come along, Danny had already decided to move on.
Martha’s reaction to their breakup wasn’t what Danny expected. She’s convinced herself that Danny simply needs a timeout, and she fully supports him dating other women. In her mind, dating other women will prove to him, once and for all, that she’s the only woman for him, and she’s willing to wait for as long as it takes. In the meantime, she’ll stay in touch.
Martha begins sending Danny emails and text messages, but when a concerned family member finds out what she’s up to, Martha switches tactics. Handwritten love letters would eliminate an electronic paper trail. She also thinks they’re more romantic. Danny, however, has never responded to any of her messages. He thinks if he ignores her long enough she’ll get the message and move on. In the meantime, he’s keeping all of her cards and letters on file to build a case against her. This will, unfortunately, have serious unintended consequences for him.
Unlike like Craig Walker, Martha hasn’t set out to intentionally cause any harm. A desperately lonely woman, she’s afraid of being on her own, and unable to accept the fact that Danny isn’t love with her.
Martha is loosely based on a woman who dated a friend’s husband before he married my friend. The old girlfriend kept writing him love letters thinking he’d come back to her someday. Of course, he never did.
Stephanie Ellis, a lead character in my contemporary romance novel, The Letter, has a lot of spunk, and she’s not afraid to call it as she sees it. A legal secretary, Stephanie has been in a relationship Danny for some time. She wants to know where their relationship is going, but whenever she brings it up, he quickly changes the subject.
Their relationship will soon takes an unexpected turn when Stephanie accidentally stumbles on a card an old girlfriend sent to Danny. Her best friend thinks the sender is nothing more than a lonely ex, but Stephanie remains unconvinced. Is she really an ex? Or has Danny been seeing his old girlfriend on the side? The old girlfriend, however, will soon be the least of her worries as her entire world will soon spirals out of control. And while things aren’t necessarily as they appear, she’ll make a rash decision which changes her life forever.
Stephanie is a purely fictitious character. However, the opening chapter of The Letter is based on a real-life event that happened to a close friend many years ago.
Danny Woodruff, a lead character in my contemporary romance novel, The Letter, is my most complicated character to date. He’s hardworking and ambitious. His goal is to work his way up the corporate ladder, regardless of what it takes to get there. He also in love with Stephanie. At least in his own way. Unfortunately for her, Danny has a problem. He’s haunted by not one, but two, women from his past.
The Letter begins with Danny and Stephanie in a long-term relationship. Stephanie is ready to make a commitment. She wants marriage and a family. However, every time she brings it up, Danny changes the subject. He’s perfectly happy with the status quo. In fact, he’s not sure if he even wants a wife and family.
Things will suddenly change when Stephanie accidentally stumbles on a love letter to Danny from an old girlfriend. As the story unfolds we learn more about Danny’s past and his struggle to overcome it. However, the ending may not be what you were expecting.
Danny is a composite character loosely based on several men I’ve known in the past. He may not be my most likable lead character, but he’s probably the most realistic.
My contemporary romance novel, The Letter, is a story of a desperate woman and a man haunted by his past.
Martha is unable to accept the fact that Danny ended their brief relationship. She’s convinced herself that he will eventually return, and she’s okay with him seeing other women. In her mind, it will prove to him, once and for all, that she’s the only woman for him. In the meantime, she’s keeping in touch. First it was by text and email, but when a family member became concerned, she switched tactics. She’s now sending Danny handwritten cards and letters.
Unfortunately for Martha, Danny has moved on for good. He believes that if he ignores her long enough she’ll get the message and leave on her own. However, unbeknownst to him, his current girlfriend, Stephanie, has accidentally stumbled on one of Martha’s letters. Now she’s wondering if Danny has been seeing another woman behind her back.
While The Letter isn’t as dark of a story as my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, readers will enjoy its many twists as turns. The Letter is a tale of misunderstandings, miscommunications, and people who aren’t as they appear to be.
A sample read from The Letter
Vanessa sighed in relief as she brushed a stray lock of short blonde hair away from her eyes and rang the doorbell. The door slowly opened, revealing a sullen looking Stephanie on the other side.
“Sorry I’m late.” Vanessa struggled to keep the frustration in her voice down. “I found the visitor’s parking lot, but the numbering system here is so bizarre. I’ve been all over the complex and back trying to find the right building.”
“It’s okay.” Stephanie motioned for her come inside, and as she crossed the threshold Vanessa took in her surroundings.
“Nice condo. I’d say Danny has good taste.”
Vanessa’s brow furrowed. “Are you okay? You seem upset about something.”
Stephanie silently nodded toward the kitchen, offering her friend a cup of coffee as she pointed to the stools in front of the breakfast bar.
“Stephanie, if you’re not feeling well, it’s okay. We don’t have to go to the mall if you’re not up to it.”
“I’m okay. We’ll leave in a few minutes.” She grabbed the carafe and filled a mug for Vanessa. “But first, I want to show you something.”
Stephanie set the steaming mug on the bar and reached for a card resting on the other counter. Her face looked somber as she sat down on the barstool next to Vanessa.
“As you know, Danny went to the office this morning to catch up on paperwork, and he told me to help myself to coffee and cereal whenever I got up.”
“Well, that was certainly thoughtful of him.” Vanessa picked up her mug and took a sip.
“I suppose.” Stephanie’s voice sounded uncertain. “After I got up, I discovered the TV remote wasn’t working, so I went to get some fresh batteries. You know how everyone has a junk drawer in their kitchen.”
“Uh huh,” said Vanessa with a nod.
“So, while I was searching for the batteries, I came across this. It was stuck in the back of the drawer.” She set the valentine card and its envelope on the breakfast bar. Vanessa raised her eyebrows as she set her coffee mug down.
“So, who’s Martha?”
“You’re about to find out,” said Stephanie as she picked up the card.
“Wait a second.” Vanessa’s voice was firm. “I can understand how finding a card addressed to your boyfriend from some other woman would upset you, and trust me, if I ever came across a letter addressed to Mike from another woman, I’d be mad as hell. But Stephanie, you really shouldn’t have opened it.”
Stephanie gave her a sharp look. “It was outside of its envelope and stuck to something else. When I removed it all from the drawer, the card fell on the floor. I had no idea it was there, and when I picked it up, I noticed it had a note written on the inside.”
“So, did you read it?”
“Not intentionally, but at that point, it would have been hard not to.” Stephanie’s voice was firm but sad. “Danny and I have had an exclusive relationship for some time now. Or at least, I thought we did.”
My latest contemporary romance novel, The Letter, differs from my others. This time I didn’t kill any of the characters. Not one. Which is a first for me. 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 most of my novels a bad guy, or gal, had it coming. 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 survived, but they just didn’t work as well. Killing this particular character off heightened the drama, making the story more intense and a more interesting read. Nevertheless, having to write this character out made me feel genuinely sad.
There was 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?