Archive for the 'Writing Life' Category
Monday, April 21st, 2008
My March release, Fancy Free featured a heroine who inherits a condom company.
Some of you will already be familiar with the behind-the-scenes story about how the idea for Fancy Free came to me. My husband and I were flying home from San Francisco aboard an Air New Zealand flight. I browsed the in-flight magazine and a new product article caught my attention. One of the new products was a vibrating condom, and immediately my mind seized on the idea. My husband shushed me when I tried to discuss condoms and the possibilities, so I went into daydream mode and by the time we landed in Auckland had a plot all mapped out.
That brings me directly back to condoms. In our personal lives we’re told to practice safe sex. I have no problem with that, after all, who wants to pick up a nasty disease while doing a horizontal tango?
Safe sex and the surrounding issues is something that authors need to consider each time they write a love scene. Back at the start of the safe sex campaign a lot of people went on record as saying using a condom in a fictional love scene destroyed all the spontaneity. Personally I’ve never understood the problem because if the scene is written properly, a condom can add an extra dimension. It says I care enough about my health to use one. It says I care enough about my partner to protect him or her. To me, writing a condom into a love scene makes plain common sense.
Over my years of writing I’ve developed a set of rules for fictional condom use. I’ll also add here that this is my opinion and this is what I like to see. I’m not going to bash you over the head if you disagree.
My hero and heroine always use a condom in each love scene. Sometimes more, since I write erotic romance! If they don’t use a condom I give the reader a good reason. Sometimes in the heat of the moment our hero and heroine might forget. Our hero and heroine might be in the middle of nowhere and desperate to the point of crazed, or they might know each other’s sexual history and oral contraception is enough. In Fancy Free, condoms are part of the plot. My characters James and Alice make full use of their products. In Summer in the City of Sails, I even have a condom scene where the hero tells the heroine her glow-in-the-dark condoms remind him of a green ogre.
I know from my research a form of condoms has been around since Egyptian times. During Roman times after the gladiators fought, they scored big time with the noble ladies. These noble ladies didn’t want children from the gladiators, merely a night of pleasure so they used condoms.
If I’m writing a historical, my heroes and heroines usually don’t use condoms. This was an era where good girls remained virgins until marriage, especially the women of the nobility so the use of condoms isn’t an issue. I look at the social mores when deciding whether my characters use birth control. In my Georgian-set historical, The Second Seduction the plot was a marriage of convenience and a condom wasn’t necessary. In Unforgettable, my World War II romance the couple use condoms.
Sometimes my hero and heroine use condoms and sometimes they don’t. It depends on the set-up. Often in my futuristic stories I’ll make a point of saying sexually transmitted diseases are eradicated. I did this in Sex Idol and Fallen Idol.
In my Middlemarch Mates feline shifter series condoms are used in some books and not in others, with the readers learning why condoms are absent.
It is my opinion that responsible romantic heroes use condoms.
What do you think about condoms in fiction? Should our heroes and heroines use them? Does it jerk you out of a scene if condoms are absent? If you’re a writer what rules of use do you like to apply?
Tuesday, April 15th, 2008
Ever since my aspiring author days, I’ve stuck to the idea of having several submissions out at once to help cushion disappointment. If I have several projects with editors or agents and one comes back with a no, I have hope in the mail because some of my other subs are still live.
After selling my first book I’ve continued with my “hope in the mail” program, and mostly it works. But there’s one strange phenomenon I’ve noticed. The replies tend to come back in clusters, no matter when I first sent them out. A case in point. I sent one sub in mid-Dec, one in Jan and one in Feb. The answers have all arrived back in the space of a week with two coming on the same day. I still have two live submissions and quite frankly, I’m a bit worried about opening my email in the morning.
I received a couple of rejections and I’ve already moved on to Plan B for those. I’ve also have some good news to balance out the rejections. (I’m not telling yet) I don’t think I’ll change my “hope in the mail” routine, but I’d definitely like the replies to arrive farther apart. I need time to savor the hope!!
I’m a huge paranormal fan. I like both dark paranormals and the more light-hearted ones. My own writing tends toward the light-hearted with humor end, although I can write darker if I set my mind to it. I wish there were more of the light-hearted ones around. I’ve just read Howling at the Moon (tales of an urban werewolf) by Karen Macinerney. I really loved it and chuckled out loud quite a bit during the reading of the book. Unfortunately I need to wait until Nov 2008 for book two.
I know there are quite a few paranormal fans out there. Do you prefer reading the darker paranormals or are you, like me, a fan of the light-hearted ones? Actually, I like humorous contemporaries as well. I wish there were more of those around, too.
Tuesday, April 8th, 2008
Mr. Munro and I have just returned home from a family dinner – a birthday celebration for my mother-in-law. Now that the family is getting larger it’s difficult to organize everyone, so we were slightly depleted in number, although we managed four generations of family. We’re also expecting two babies in the family – the first to arrive should make an appearance in just over a week. Everyone is excited because it’s a girl after several boys. Anyway, Mr. Munro and I had to go for a walk when we arrived home to shake down our dinners. My eyes were WAY too big.
The form for volunteers at the RWA conference went online today. I decided I’d volunteer and chose the agent/editor appointments plus a few hours on the registration desk. I’m a bit shy, so it’s good for me. That’s what I keep telling myself…
I thought I’d mention the Erotic Romance Blog. Both the blog and the website are full of great information on e-publishing and erotic romance plus the latest market news. I always find the posts interesting and have them on my blog feed.
And finally writer Josh Lanyon has a how-to book available on writing m/m romances. It’s called Man-oh-Man, Writing M-M for Cash and Kinks. It’s definitely worth checking out and is available in e-format from Fictionwise. I recently read my first book by Josh Lanyon called The Dark Horse and enjoyed it very much. He’s a very good writer – lots of emotion and well-rounded characters. He has several books available at Fictionwise and some at Loose ID.
Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
Writing a book is like dating. There’s the first excitement of the new idea where you wonder what to wear, how to approach the shiny new relationship. It goes well and there’s a second date. The liaison seems full of promise but suddenly the guy doesn’t ring…
What on earth has gone wrong? you wonder, trying to frantically rethink the relationship, obsessing about what you should have, could have done differently.
Read the rest of this entry ?
Monday, March 3rd, 2008
Yesterday I, along with countless other writers, started on the 70 Days of Sweat challenge. This is my first time and so far I’m doing all right and have written more words than I normally would. Here’s hoping I can keep it up because I know I have some edits on the way. Is anyone else doing the challenge? Let me know if you are. I like to know my fellow sweaters.
On Friday I fell off my bike. My left knee looks like I’ve attacked it with a grater while my right leg is sporting four fist-sized bruises. Yep, looking pretty colorful today. On Saturday my knee was painfully sore but today I’m feeling much better and walking normally again. It’s fine as long as I don’t make any sudden moves. My bike tire caught the lip of the footpath after I’d passed an elderly gentleman and over I went. The man asked me if I was okay and picked up my bike for me before hurrying off. I think he thought I might cry. I didn’t but I said, “Bugger” twice – the extent of my swearing. So, my lesson learned – watch out for lips on pavements. Unfortunately, all the new footpaths have a few inches drop down to the grass and it’s not always easy to avoid them.
Today I’m giving away a download of Playing to Win over at The Romance Studio.
And another CONTEST: Win a download of Fancy Free. Read the excerpt on my website and answer the following question. What stopped James and Alice from making love? Email your answer to shelley munro@ gmail.com (no spaces) and I’ll announce the winner on 6 March.
And that’s all the excitement at the Munro house. Oh, apart from the fact I’ve finally purchased an Ipod. It’s only a 1GB one but they were so cheap hubby and decided we might as well buy it. I have my songs loaded up, heavy on the NZ music, and I’m good to go. Life’s good.
What are you up to this week?
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
Ideas – they come in the strangest places at the funniest times. A writer’s life is never dull that’s for sure!
Mr. Munro and I were catching an Air New Zealand flight from San Francisco to Auckland. We hadn’t been on the plane long and I was settled back with my inflight magazine. It’s always the first thing I read when I get on any plane since they have interesting travel articles. Air New Zealand have this new products section and one of the items shown was a vibrating condom.
“Oh,” I said to hubby in a loud voice. “Look!” (and I have to point out hubby is always growling at me for muttering. I don’t but that’s another story. Anyhow, I spoke rather loudly.)
“What?” he asked.
“It’s a vibrating condom. Hmmm, I wonder how they test them?”
“Shush!” he said glancing at our neighbors who WERE looking at us.
“But it’s a vibrating condom!” I said. “Let’s buy one. How do you think they test them? Do you think people test them?” I asked, full of questions. The muse was at a full gallop, considering all the possibilities.
“Shush,” hubby said again. “I’m trying to read.”
“Oh, but don’t you think it would make a great story?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“All right,” I said, a trifle grumpy now. “I’ll think to myself about how they test the vibrating condom.”
“Good idea,” hubby said.
So, I did. All the way back to New Zealand I thought about condoms and how they’d be tested. I thought about the possibilities of a girl inheriting a condom company and the rest, as they say, is history. I wrote Fancy Free, a story about a girl who inherits a condom company and is heavily involved in testing…
If you’d like to learn how my twisted mind works Fancy Free releases from Ellora’s Cave on 7 March 2008 – next Friday!! And meantime, if you’d like to read the blurb and excerpt go here.
Monday, February 25th, 2008
Excitement! I’ve sold the fifth Middlemarch book to Ellora’s Cave. I’m not sure of the release date for Cat and Mouse yet but will let you all know as soon as I do. Cat and Mouse features a cowboy hero and a heroine who owns a restaurant in Queenstown. Meantime, I’m hard at work on the sixth Middlemarch book.
I’ve opened a hotel. Yes, it’s true. I now own real estate space at Coffee Time Romance and you’re welcome to visit me at any time. There will be excerpts, inside info and fun discussion, news of contests and upcoming books and I hope to cajole some of my writer friends into posting some of their excerpts and covers in the Presidential Suite. Author friends? Are you there? Please come over to my new hotel, say hello and help me celebrate my opening week by posting an excerpt. To post you need to register but it’s free and only takes a couple of minutes. I hope to see you there. For all you paranormal writers out there, Coffee Time is having a special paranormal day on 27th. The Ellora’s Cave day I attended recently was lots of fun so check this out.
On 1 March I’m starting in the third Sweat for Sven challenge. I want to complete my current work in progress and make inroads on a tiger shifter story I’ve storyboarded. Is anyone else sweating with Sven?
I’ve read some great books recently. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC of Lauren Dane’s Standoff. Here’s the blurb:
Cade Warden has put his Pack first for most of his life and now Warren Pellini and his thugs threaten everything he holds dear. Into that life of intense focus and increasing loneliness walks the woman he’s been waiting for.
Grace Pellini isn’t just Cade’s mate, she’s the sister of his greatest enemy and she’s been putting herself in grave danger to gather information to aid the Nationally Allied Packs. Cade is everything she could have hoped for in a man even if he is overprotective and pushy at times.
Against the backdrop of their increasing passion and deepening bond, they race against time to find a key to stop Pellini’s biological weapon. And then the stakes rise again when Pellini calls an ancient Challenge. It’s up to Grace to stand by and let her mate risk everything for his people. And his life is in her hands.
Standoff completes the series story arc and it’s a great finish. It’s no secret that I love Lauren’s books. True, she’s a writer friend, but check out her reviews. You know there’s a reason she’s selling to New York publishers now. Cascadia Wolves is an excellent series guaranteed to satisfy the paranormal fan with strong alpha heroes and equally tough heroines who don’t take any nonsense from their mates or anyone else. Each successive book is like a visit to friends since we get to see all the family interaction, their bickering and loving and the way they face a challenge. In this book we finally get to see Cade find his mate, and it’s a beautiful thing. Standoff is out from Samhain on 4 March.
Another book I’ve read and enjoyed is Another One Bites the Dust by Jennifer Rardin. It’s paranormal meets James Bond with Jaz Parks as the heroine. There’s vampires, wizards, bellydancing, acrobats and a winter festival. Jaz and her team need to retrieve a special piece of stolen equipement. I’ve mentioned the first book Once Bitten, Twice Shy before and I’m eagerly awaiting a chance to read the third book in the series. Really, this is a great series.
Friday, February 8th, 2008
Hubby and I have a new obsession. It’s an animated show called Shaun the Sheep. Shaun the Sheep is a character taken from Wallace and Gromitt, who now has his own series. Each program is five minutes. I sit there in front of the TV, absolutely enthralled. I tell you, I’m a big kid at heart. I tape it and hubby and I watch it again later at night, chuckling all the way through. Last night’s involved a baby lamb, a red teddy bear, a farmer, a pesky cat and some Y-front underwear used as a bungee, and of course, Shaun. Fun stuff! Shaun the Sheep has a website here. If you have kids definitely check this out. There are all sorts of fun things for them to do. Hubby and I had fun watching all the clips. I’m going to check for the DVDs next time I go to the mall.
CAN YOU HELP ME?
And finally, I have a new release coming from Ellora’s Cave on March 7 called Fancy Free. It’s a story about a girl who inherits a condom company. I’ve been trying a few different things with promo this year and for Fancy Free I’m going to ask both writers and readers who have blogs or newsletters to help me spread the word.
I have several short posts (supposedly taken from the diary of Fancy Free’s founder) which I’m going to ask people to post on their blogs, at MySpace, in newsletters or wherever else they can. As an incentive, I’m offering a prize to one participant – a NZ beanie, some NZ soaps, an autographed copy of either The Second Seduction or The Shadow, one of my special good luck charms and a couple of other things. The winner will also receive a download of Fancy Free.
All you need to do is email me for the diary entries and the press release and you can choose which you’d like to post and how many you’d like to post. Each time you post one from 25 Feb – 6 Mar you get an entry into the contest. Just email me to let me know where you’ve posted the diary entry and you’re in the draw. I’ll pick a winner on 7 March.
Meantime, if you have any questions or you’d be willing to help me out email me here. Please pass the word around. If any of your friends are interested, just get them to email me as well.
Wednesday, January 30th, 2008
Quite a few years ago when my sister was having a house built she told Mr. Munro and I she intended to get a dishwasher. “What do you need one of those for?” we asked, making definite scoffing sounds. “It’s no problem handwashing the dishes each night. It takes hardly any time at all.”
My sister said maybe that was the case but she still intended getting a dishwasher. It was bad enough cooking dinner when she arrived home from work. Adding dishes to the equation was too much. She duly got her dishwasher, and Mr. Munro and I smugly continued doing our dishes by hand.
Then we moved into a new house, one that came with a brand new dishwasher. Hubby and I looked at each other. “It would be silly not to use it,” Mr. Munro said. I agreed.
“We’ll put it on every couple of days. No point using dishes just for the sake of filling it.” Once again, I agreed.
Wind the clock forward about five years to this week:
Me – “The dishwasher’s broken. It’s the handle. Something has broken off and the dishwasher isn’t closing.”
“It’s full of dishes,” Mr. Munro said glumly. “And it’s a holiday weekend. We’ll have to do the dishes by hand.”
And so it went. The dishwasher broke on Saturday and we’ve handwashed ever since. It’s now Wednesday and the dishwasher repairman arrived to fix it this afternoon. I handed over our check and thanked him very much. I wanted to hug him but I didn’t want to seem too forward. We use the dishwasher just about every day and there’s only the two of us. It was a pain living without it.
On Christmas day, my sister and I laughed when I said how much I love the dishwasher. This week Mr. Munro and I discussed our smugness and had to laugh. It’s kind of ironic really – how the past always manages to come back and bite you in the bum!
I received a wonderful five star review for Playing to Win. Anne Boling from ReviewYourBook.com said, “Playing to Win has an edge-of –your- seat plot. I was hooked from the first chapter. This book has twists and turns that keep the reader guessing. The characters are well defined with their own voice. Shelley Munro is a talented author. Fans of romance, do not let this one escape your bookshelf.” The full review is available here.
Tuesday, January 29th, 2008
Playing to Win, the very first book I wrote is a romantic suspense. I’ve written many different genres since then, but one thing remains true. I love to add a suspense element and if I can sprinkle the odd body or two between the pages, so much the better.
Although a villain is essentially a secondary character in a romance, he or she needs just as much work during the creation process as the hero and heroine. There’s a trick or two I’ve learned to make a credible villain. I thought I’d share:
1. A villain doesn’t have to be really evil and horrid. The villain in a romance might be an old girlfriend, a brother or sister, a mother-in-law or the man living next-door. They can be a meddling friend who is trying to match make. You don’t need a high body count to make a villain. Villainy comes in many forms such as the ex-girlfriend intent on regaining the hero’s interest.
2. When you’re thinking about your villain, give him good points as well as bad ones. Make him three dimensional. If he’s a well-rounded character then he’s actually scarier because we, the reader, come to like him or we might see part of our own character in his makeup and empathize.
3. Think about having your villain mirror your hero or heroine actions. Give them a similar conflict but have them behave in a different way to solve the conflict.
4. Give your villains a good reason for behaving in the manner they are—in other words, good motivation for their actions.
5. Make use of the setting to enhance the villain i.e. cold or stormy weather or late at night. Every bit counts!
6. Take as much care when choosing your villain’s name as you do when picking a name for your hero and heroine. A good name can help make a villain.
How do you like your villains? Subtle or in-your-face? Who is your favorite villain in fiction? Are there any characteristics you like to see in a villain?