Tag: romance


Mix and Match

 I’m a fan of mix-ups, mash-ups, and cross-overs. I love it when a book or film combines elements from different genres to create a story. So I asked my fellow Missdemeanors, if you were going to write a mash-up or cross-genre novel, what two genres would you combine? (For example, western and crime fiction, romance and sci-fi,…) Bonus question, Why? PaulaShort answer for me: Unless I had a really high-concept idea, I wouldn’t do it. Because as an agent I know how hard it is to sell mash-ups. If you have a really high-concept idea, or if you are truly creating a new genre, then it’s easier. But that’s lightning in a bottle—and a high bar to meet. MicheleI’m afraid I’m pretty traditional and am unlikely ever to write a mash-up. As far as cross-genre goes, combining romantic comedy with traditional mystery is about as daring as I get. Why? Because that’s what I like to read. SusanI did actually do that when I wrote a novel that combined time travel, mystery and Anne Boleyn. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that her execution was postponed by a day, giving her an unexpected day of life, and that opened to me all sorts of magical possibilities. Also, because so little is actually known about her–even her year of birth is a matter for dispute–it seemed to me that there was a lot of room to explore her character. However, what Paula says is absolutely true. It’s hard to sell. RobinI’m taking this question as a fun thought experiment rather than an actual career goal. With that in mind, I’d write a musical cyber thriller. Something like Wicked or Frozen but about sibling hackers, one who works with law enforcement and one who’s a criminal, then juxtapose them by circumstances. All set to a peppy soundtrack. There’d be a big ensemble number in the second act, like the reprise of “Tonight” in West Side Story, where all the main and secondary characters sing about the impending showdown and their goals or fears about how it’s going to turn out.Why? Because, hey, maybe I could persuade Lin Manuel Miranda to collaborate AlexiaI would totally buy tickets to your cybercrime musical. Orchestra seats. AlisonLove this, Robin! I can completely imagine sitting in The Gershwin Theatre watching your musical.Hmmm. I fall in the same camp as Michele. I can’t imagine writing anything other than traditional mysteries. Having said that, I like the idea of a future history mystery. I’m drawn to playing with “what ifs.” What if a Supreme Court decision had come down differently? What if a war never started? What if an election went the other way? I spent most of my twenties studying political science and international relations where there’s a long and illustrious history of academics writing science fiction (think George Orwell). A mash up can be great reading, but I’m not likely to be the one writing it. AlexiaI’d combine mystery with sci-fi or fantasy. Because you can add a dead body to almost anything (except maybe romantic comedy) and, voila, you’ve got a whodunit. With robots and rockets it’s a sci-fi whodunit. (Philip K. Dick comes to mind.) With dragons and magic it’s a fantasy whodunit. I take back what I said about romantic comedy. I can picture dead bodies involved. Foul Play, with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase is one of my favorite rom coms. PaulaMine, too! RobinAlexia, you said it before I could – romcom + dead body = Foul Play.The more I think about the musical idea, the more fun it sounds. Writers can be EGOTs, right? Maybe that should be a goal after all 😀 TraceeI’m part of the straight and narrow….. mystery with RomCom or history. And I’ll add that every good story has a mystery at its heart so it doesn’t to be a traditional mystery.Alison, your mention of altered future made me think about my love of history. I did enjoy Stephen King’s altered version of the death of JFK, but I’ve not been a big fan of other altered past/future stories. I’m not entirely certain why. Maybe because once we alter then the permutations are endless so why now that specific future. On the other hand it is more likely because history (good old fixed in time) is already so flexible with interpretation and revised information that it’s enough for me! But if you write one, I’ll be sure to read it!  

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Paging Mr. Rochester

I’m been thinking a lot about Mr. Rochester lately. Specifically, Mr. Rochester on his horse, slipping on the ice, and falling into the tender care of Jane Eyre. That has got to be one of the most romantic first meetings in literature and I’ve been thinking about it because I have two people in my new novel who are going to fall in love. (The nice thing about being an author is you can tell people what to do and most of the time they’ll listen.) How should they meet? How quickly should they know they are in love?  That’s led me to think about other great romantic meetings in literature. Mr. Darcy in full sneering mode comes to mind. Romeo and Juliet at the party. The poor anxious heroine of Rebecca running into Max DeWinter. My favorite romantic characters that I’ve written is Chuck Jones, who was the love interest in my first novel, The Fiction Class. He was actually the love interest in a novel I’d written before that, titled Courting Disaster, which was about a woman who gets engaged 17 times and then falls in love. It was a little dark, but my favorite part of that book was Chuck Jones, who was a smooth-talking and optimistic sort of person who I felt was perfect for the anxious and pessimistic heroine of that book. When Courting Disaster didn’t sell (though it did win awards!), I began work on The Fiction Class and had to populate the class with characters and I looked around and thought, why shouldn’t Chuck Jones sign up for a fiction class. Of course, he was impossible. Didn’t do his homework and whispered in class, and yet he was quite a bit of fun and Arabella fell in love with him, as did I. Unfortunately, it will not do for my new romantic hero to stumble across my protagonist on a horse, but I do think I have a fun way for them to meet. I’m thinking about it! 

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From Special Ops to Thrillers

Like so many writers, S.B. Woodson (Stacy) had a prior life that serves as great material for her writing. Unlike most other writers I know, though, that prior life included jumping out of helicopters. Now she juggles writing with raising two young kids, which means she’s up well before the sun (and well before me).  You’ve had a very interesting background. Can you tell us a little bit about your former careers? Stacy: The military has shaped who I am, and the careers I’ve pursued. I served ten years in the Army, mostly in the Special Operations community. Following the military, I worked in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff where I provided recommendations on policy and doctrine for the Psychological Operations community. Later, I earned my MBA and transitioned to various leadership positions in a government contract firm. After my daughter was born, I returned to the Joint Staff J39 as a federal employee. My primary focus was preparing briefs and materials for Congress. Now I write full time and memories of my military service play a role in most of my stories. Congratulations on your Daphne! You write in different genres. How do you think writing romance has influenced you as a suspense writer? Stacy: Some of my favorite thriller novels are character driven stories written by authors who started in romance. I’ve learned so much about craft and how to write compelling characters through Washington Romance Writers, an amazing chapter of Romance Writers of America. What is your writing routine? Stacy: I have two small children so I try to work my writing routine around their schedules. On weekdays, I’m usually up at 3:30am. I run three miles and then I write until I need to get them ready for school. My son goes to preschool three days a week. So I write the bulk of my time on these days. If I have a deadline or don’t meet my word count, I will go to the library on Saturday. I am grateful to have a supportive husband. Is there anything you’ve learned along the way that you wished you’d known earlier about getting an agent or getting published? Stacy: ThrillerFest was and continues to be a game changer for me. I attended my first ThrillerFest in 2015. Here I found my writing group and critique partners. We share information about writing classes, contests, and conferences. I was able to learn from the group and avoid pitfalls others have experienced. I set a goal to complete my first book and pitch it at the next conference. The following year, I signed with an agent. At ThrillerFest this year, I connected with an editor from Publishers Weekly, and I’m a contributor to the publication now. 

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Talking Political Thrillers with Rick Pullen

Rick and I met in a master class at ThrillerFest when I first got to read the beginning of Naked Ambition. I was hooked. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. Rick already is following up his debut novel with Naked Truth. On top of that, he’s working on another series. I managed to steal some of his time to ask him about how he got started, what he’s up to now and if he has any words of wisdom for writers who are just starting out. I think of Naked Ambition as a political thriller. How would you describe it? Rick: Beck Rikki is a newspaper reporter investigating a corrupt politician. His investigation soon elevates into something much broader than he ever suspected. His efforts are complicated when he meets a woman whose motivations clash with his and he is torn about what to do. Just when he thinks he’s figured it all out, he realizes he hasn’t. You have an interesting story about how your first novel was published, and where that took you. Can you tell us a little about that? Rick: I’m a huge fan of Mary Buckham’s writing books on active setting. We became email friends and I told her if she was ever on the east coast to speak to a group, I wanted to meet her. She was speaking to the Virginia Romance Writers in November 2015 so I contacted the chapter president and she allowed me to attend. I was one of two men in a room of 60 woman writers. They introduced me and explained I was writing a thriller. At the end of the day I was standing in line to purchase some of Mary’s books when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and asked if she could read my manuscript. I said sure. Then she told me she was a reader for a New York agent, and I said SURE! That was Saturday evening. On Monday morning I emailed her my manuscript. That afternoon she emailed me back saying she hadn’t finished it but it was one of the best she had read. I thought, yeah right. I had already been turned down by 38 agents. She said she would give it to hers. She did. He got back to me two months later. He liked it a lot but said it wouldn’t be a breakout novel so he declined to rep me. That did it. I’d had it trying to find an agent. I needed to jumpstart my writing career. A niche publisher friend of mine, Ron Sauder, recommended I try the Kindle Scout program. You sign up with Kindle Press and they put a few chapters on the Scout program webpage to gauge support and find future book reviewers. After 30 days, they offered to publish my novel, Naked Ambition. It was published May 3, 2016 and hit number one May 20 in three different Amazon thriller categories. My sales attracted the agent’s attention again and he signed me. That took place at ThrillerFest 2016. This year at ThrillerFest I met another publisher who has asked me for a book proposal for a new series. If the deal goes through, that will be published in 2019. In the meantime, Kindle Press is publishing a new series of mine, The Apprentice, this fall and Naked Truth, my sequel to Naked Ambition, is schedule for January publication. So now I have two series in the works and a request for a third. I will be busy. Is there anything you know now that you’d like to have known when you were starting your writing career? Rick: I know how difficult it is to both find a publisher and an agent. I found you sometimes have to go an unconventional route to get someone’s attention. Kindle Press opened up opportunities for me. I got an agent after selling a lot of books and I’m talking seriously to another publisher about a new series. What is something about you that would surprise us?  Rick: When I was young I struggled to read. I was very slow and slightly dyslexic. It still sometimes juxtapose numbers. It’s a damned good thing I didn’t take over my Dad’s accounting firm! I didn’t become a real reader until college and then I gobbled up everything. For a while I was a typical male and read only non-fiction. I thought reading fiction was a waste of time. Then I read Scott Turow’s Presumed Innocent and that changed my life. I think it is one of the most brilliant novels ever. I’m still not a speed reader, but when you read for a living eight hours a day, it doesn’t really matter. 

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The best romantic books

It’s Valentine’s Day. So whose mind doesn’t turn to reading?  Or romantic reading anyway. I’ve been having a grand time trying to make a list of some of my favorite Valentine’s Day reading and this is what I’ve come up with. 1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I’ve read it a thousand times and I still swoon when Mr. Rochester shows up on his horse. 2. Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart. For years I wanted to be a governess because of this book. 3. The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. The movie is fabulous, but the book is pretty fabulous too. I just love the way they talk to each other. 4. The Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer and basically anything by Georgette Heyer. 5. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. It’s about a thousand pages long, but I think I read it in five minutes. 6.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which is not actually a romance, except I spent so much time obsessing over Atticus Finch that it might just as well have been,  and when I met husband, my first thought was: He’s just like Atticus. So it wound up being a romance after all. Happy Valentine’s Day, Brad! How about you? Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day read? 

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