Tag Archive | steamy romance

When Your Novel Is More Than Just A Story

“Write to market”, they said. “Your books will sell better”, they said.

Most of the time, that’s good advice. I took it to heart when writing my latest contemporary romance series, the Love Grows series. However, I did have some reservations. They were concerning, even though they were more rhetorical than factual.
• Would a story written to fit a certain genre feel contrived?
• Would “hitting the buttons” or the “checklist” of a genre or trend suck all the creativity out of the story?
• Did I risk targeting a trend that has already passed?

Such are the burning questions which keep authors from sleeping.

Despite my initial reservations with “writing to market”, once I started writing, I found I was able to compose stories that I enjoyed while still targeting a specific audience.

The Love Grows Series

My approach was to take a popular trope- billionaire romance- and put my own twist to it. What could it hurt to try? If I hated writing it, or it fizzled upon release, the experience would provide valuable information. It would be a lesson learned. I’d write the best book I could, with a targeted cover and blurb, and niche-focused marketing.

In January 2019, I released the first book in the Love Grows series, Not So Broken. Creating the perfect title had eluded me at first. All the possibilities were either too on the nose, or too vague. My editor actually commented on a great line in the book, “perhaps I was not so broken, after all”, and I knew I had my title.

Oddly enough, that sparked the titles for the next two books, Not So Wrong, and Not So Far. Which proved to me that creativity can indeed flow within a framework, especially if you’ve some experience at writing fiction. Not So Broken was my fifth book, so I had the general plot structure and process down before I started writing a word.

To my great surprise, the book was well received. Based on the feedback, I’d “hit all the points” expected of the genre. And I’d fallen in love with the story in the process.

Not So Wrong

When I crafted the second book in the series, Not So Wrong, I took a secondary character from Not So Broken and gave her the spotlight. It so happened that Melanie Parker was a singer, which I had just thrown in when she appeared in the first book. Her profession became the central theme and conflict of the story, which I had not planned out previously.

The hero, her love interest, had also appeared briefly in the first book. Spencer Colebank was introduced as an annoying cousin, who was suspected of scheming to take over the family business. I don’t know why I chose him, of all people, to woo free-spirited Melanie. But I sensed there was much more to him than was shown on the surface, and the challenge of redeeming him intrigued me.
Boy, was I in for a surprise! He turned out to be as strong a hero as Gibson was in Not So Broken, but in a different way. He was all business on the outside, sucking up to his uncle (who is his boss) and trying to please everyone. When alone, he drank scotch and played piano. He was a musician at heart, and a chunk of painful baggage had dragged him down so far he thought he’d never get up again.

Meeting Melanie was the spark that brought him back to life, and to his first love, music. She encouraged him to pursue his passion, while she had all but given up on hers. Her family needed her, and she was plain tired of trying to find success with her band, Sparker. How they resolved these issues, confronted their pasts, and figured out a future together, was the story.

The Value of Creating

But it was so much more than a boy-meets-girl romance. As I said in the dedication, this book was a tribute to all the musicians, artists, and writers who sacrifice in large and small ways to bring beauty to the world. In an era where creativity is highly prized but at the same time, almost completely devalued, that’s a significant statement.

The creative arts can be a hobby, or a job, but either way, it involves giving a piece of your soul to the world. The internet has made creative works in all their forms plentiful, but that in no way lessons the value of efforts of the creators. The sense of abundant opportunity has made many creatives work even harder than they ever would before. The sad thing is, when there is more opportunity, there is also more competition vying for those opportunities. Which makes it increasingly harder to be noticed. Thus, the price of art, photos, music, literature, etc., goes down as hopefuls offer discounts and freebies in order to gain the attention of an audience, and ultimately, be able to afford to keep creating.

Not So Wrong was at heart, about the salvation of music and the sacrifices the characters were willing to make to keep creating it. Whether they were rich or not, they had the same desires, and the same struggles.

Themes Matter

The first book, Not So Broken, also dealt with larger themes–single parenthood, career vs. family, and loss. Those are universal concepts. Not So Wrong deals with the struggle to be your true self, and the sacrifices and compromises often necessary to make your dreams come true.

These are the themes that go way beyond the meet cute and the hopping in bed. All the flirting, romantic moments, and hot passion still serve to bring the characters closer, and by doing so, they eventually fulfill those larger goals.

Recently, a very vocal critic of the romance genre (we’ll never run out of those, it seems) called romance authors “literary prostitutes”. Blanket statements like that have to be taken with a grain of, or maybe a rock of, salt. One reason why romance readers are so voracious, (fueling a billion-dollar industry) is these books make them feel good.

And quite often, there’s more than just a cute love story between the pages, even if the book is “written to market”.

Here’s a sample scene from Not So Wrong:

Suddenly he was on the floor in front of me, kneeling. He took both of my hands in his and looked into my eyes. My heart skipped a beat. What was he going to say now?

“Melanie, you keep saying we’re so different, but we’re really not. Music saved my life, too. Piano lessons were a gift from my mother, her legacy to me. Later, when my world shattered, when I thought there would never again be any joy in my life, music kept me going. To share that personal salvation with someone else is a miracle. You understand me, and I understand you. That’s priceless. That’s something my money could never buy.”

Hot tears sprang from my eyes. I blinked them back, not wanting to cry in front of him. He was right; we had a deep understanding that connected us. I’d felt it that first night at the party when we played music together. Even before we confessed our deepest secrets, we knew them.

© Renee Regent, 2019

I love to connect with readers and other authors, so here’s my links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15611048.Renee_Regent

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/renee-regent
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReneeRegent
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Featured Interview- Romantic Suspense Author C.F. Francis

“Welcome to the tropics, where the weather isn’t the only thing that’s HOT!!”

That’s the introduction you’ll find on the website of C.F. Francis, an up and coming author of steamy, suspenseful romance. And judging by the reviews for her first two novels, her latest book, Explosive Touch, is bound to be a must-read.

Ms. Francis is a native Floridian, who loves mystery, suspense and a romance. Her novels include all three and are set primarily in beautiful Southwest Florida.  The stories tell the tales of a team of Special Forces men who get into as much trouble off the field as they do during deployment.

I had the pleasure of talking with her recently to get the scoop on her latest release and find out what she has planned for the future.

Hello and welcome! First, let’s talk about setting. What was it about Southwest Florida that drew your interest as a setting for your books?

I live in Southwest Florida and it is beautiful.  Unless you’re setting is a fantasy universe, I think a writer should stick to settings they know and being a native Floridian, I know Florida.  And who doesn’t like the tropics?

And how do you come up with your storylines? Can the books in your series be read as standalones, or is it better to read them in sequence?

The James Gang series are intended to be stand-alone books.  They may refer to a character or plot line from another story but it isn’t necessary to know that story to read the one your in.  As for storylines, I work them out in my head.  I’ve been thinking about joining, or putting together, a “plotting group”.  Maybe I wouldn’t bang my head against the wall so often if I had a little help in winding my way through plots.

Did you do a lot of research for your books?

The amount of research depends on the subject but I’m always checking things as I want the “facts” to be correct.  My last story had a satellite phone in it.  I knew nothing about them.  Now I know more than I’ll ever need.  And it had bombs in it.  The FBI should be knocking on my door any time now!  The stories revolve around a Special Forces team and I am very fortunate a former Special Forces member is a friend.  He is always willing to help me work out ideas or tell me if I’m going in the wrong direction.  His wife was in the Army and with another friend who was an Army Intelligence captain, so I have some pretty good sources.

Do you have any other books planned?

Yes.  I’m working on a general outline for #4.  I’m normally a “panster” (I write by the seat of my pants) but wanted a little bit more of an idea of where I was going this time.  We’ll see if I stick with it.

Will you be making any public appearances?

I do book signings during “season” here in Southwest Florida.  If you’re interested, check my Facebook page.  As soon as I have copies of Explosive Touch in hand, I’ll be scheduling some.  I’m also planning on attending Heather Graham’s Writers for New Orleans Labor Day weekend.

What do you like most about being an author?

Creating characters I like to spend time with.  I’ve also found I like creating mysteries as much as I like reading and solving them.

Thanks for filling us in on your books and your world, C.F.! I can’t wait to read the next book.

Here’s the info on Explosive Touch, and the buy links:

Bombings, worlds apart, throw two survivors together. Troy, a mental wreck and physically damaged due to his last tour as a Special Ops soldier, is asked to protect Shayne from an unknown enemy. Is he up to the task? Can he keep his emotional distance from a woman who has become all too important to him?

Shayne Peterson cheated death when she survived a bombing at a Tampa country club. Still, she fights a nightly battle against the terror of being trapped under the rubble and her inability to identify the man who left the deadly package. After a move to Sanibel Island, she finds herself surrounded by former Green Berets. She feels safe—until it becomes obvious that she’s not.

A suicide bomber in an Afghani marketplace left Troy McKenzie, Special Forces soldier and former ladies’ man, disfigured. He should have died that day—punishment for his arrogance and misplaced trust. Unable to get past the memories and the boy he couldn’t save, Troy returns to Sanibel, seeking the support of his former brothers-in-arms.

Soon Shayne and Troy are battling their unexpected, and ill-timed, attraction to one another while staying one step ahead of a killer.

Amazon-  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07N687LCT

B & N-   https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/explosive-touch-c-f-francis/1130407022?ean=2940156282142

iBooks –  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/explosive-touch/id1450778610?mt=11

Kobo-   https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/explosive-touch

 

And if you’d like to follow C.F. Francis, here’s the links:

Website:  http://www.cffrancis.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Francis_Sanibel

FacebooK: https://www.facebook.com/cffrancisauthor/?eid=ARAZFu_6rVA0iOdTwyDJTbS6Wzz1bwHG6XeeZSvWJlcO6ILNZwvkVZem4DTT82q3WLiUqOx3PG6-bBMO