After nine Y/A books, I’m often asked how the writing process for He’s Gone, my new novel for adults, was different. Namely, how do I create characters for teen novels versus adult ones?
The funny thing is, I frequently answered a similar question after the publication of Honey, Baby, Sweetheart, a story about a young girl and her mother who both have screwed-up love lives, and who embark on a road trip to reunite a pair of geriatric lovers. The road trip (and much of the book) also involved a book club of senior citizens called The Casserole Queens. The question was, how do you write convincing older characters? read more on www.dot romanceatrandom dot com
After nine Y/A books, I’m often asked how the writing process for He’s Gone, my new novel for adults, was different. Namely, how do I create characters for teen novels versus adult ones?
Rising star Cassie Maeintroduces New Adult readers to a practical soon-to-be college freshman who seems to have everything—until a special guy shows her what she’s been missing.
Cookie-cutter Christian good girl, Kelli Pinkins meets arrogant frat boy, Chase Moroney. When the sparring relationship turns into something more, Kelli wonders what exactly she’ll have to give up, and who she’s willing to give it up for. This New Adult Romantic Comedy offers readers an impassioned story with humorous banter and emotional turmoil.
Quotes from Friday Night Alibi – love these:
He pulls back, but not enough. His breath is now floating over my forehead. “I like this game you’ve started. All this tension, I’m betting this’ll end well for me.”
Putting a hand on his chest, I push him back so he’s not in my bubble. “Really? How’s that?”
“Because you want me.” Annoying grin. “And once we get past all the bizarre flirting, you’ll be asking me for a kiss.” Bigger grin. “Begging me for it.”
****** Sigh ******
‘His voice sends a chill down my spine. Not like that bad nasty chill I’m used to either. Like, the good kind. The kind that makes my lips tingle as I look at his mouth. The kind that causes the hairs on my arm to shoot upward when his fingers brush mine as he offers the oranges. And the kind of chill that makes me do something really stupid.’
############ and, another winner ##########
‘His tongue kissing is like his other kissing. He just knows what to do. It’s not some eel trying to feel my tonsils. It’s erotic and slippery and makes every single nerve in my body make its own bowl of popcorn. I know I’m making some really embarrassing noises, but I can’t stop them. And if someone were to pass my room right now, they’d think we were doing a whole lot more than making out.’
Praise for Cassie Mae:
“Totally entertaining with as many swoon-worthy moments as hilarious ones, Friday Night Alibi is a must-read.”—Jolene Perry, co-author of Out of Play
“A fun, funny, and fantastic story, this is one you will read in a day, and pick up to re-read again the next.”—Kelley Lynn, author of Fraction of Stone
Cassie Mae is brilliant! Kelli and Chase are so much fun, and had me laughing from the “gum incident.” I love some playful banter turned HOT! This book had me laughing out loud, tearing up, blushing and everything in between. I can’t get enough of these characters or their sweet amazing story. Definitely a book I can read again and again. —Leigh Covington, blogger at Leigh Covington
Chase had me right away, from his first smart-ass comment. He’s got a sharp wit that I adore, but is also sweet and caring. Definitely one of my favorite book boys! —Rachel Schieffelbein, author of Secondary Characters
Cassie Mae has a fun fresh voice that’s flirty, romantic, and awkward in the most adorable way. The characters are so real to life I wanted to hang out with them for a lot longer. The plot had me alternating between laughing, crying, and cringing just enough to make me turn the page. If you’re fan of romance, this is one book you won’t want to put down. —JA Bennett, author at blog, A Writer’s Journey
About the Book:
In the wealthy town of Sundale, Kelli Pinkins has hatched the perfect plan to capitalize on her sweet reputation. For a generous fee, she will be every trust-fund baby’s dream: a Friday-night alibi, the “girlfriend” or “BFF” that parents dream about. With college approaching in the fall, Kelli’s services are in demand more than ever, which means that her social life is nonexistent. But Kelli is A-okay with that. She’s raking in cash for school. Besides, relationships are tricky, and sometimes very messy. She’d rather be at home on Xbox LIVE, anyway. Then the unexpected happens: She meets college stud Chase Maroney.
Chase isn’t like the preppy, privileged guys Kelli usually meets in Sundale. For starters, he’s twentysomething, always wears black., and he shoots back one-liners as fast as she can dish them out. But Kelli’s attempts to drive Chase away falter when she realizes that he treats her like he really knows her, like he cares about knowing her. When Kelli finally gives in to the delicious kiss she’s been fighting for so long, she faces a tough decision: make Chase a real-life boyfriend and risk her heart … or keep her clients and lose her first true love.
The other day I was revisiting one of my favorite old-school romances: A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught. I hadn’t read it in years, and it held a little surprise that I’d conveniently forgotten…
The heroine is seventeen years old.
My infatuation with the love story plummeted steeply.
Perhaps that’s unfair of me. History tells us that seventeen was an acceptable age for a girl being married off in 1497.
And seeing as I started dating my own husband when we were seventeen, I will gladly admit that yes, seventeen year olds can fall in love “for real.” Plus, I’ve read enough wonderful YA romances to know teenagers can have have epic love stories.
But A Kingdom of Dreams isn’t a YA. It’s an adult romance, and the hero is twenty-nine to the heroine’s seventeen.
Again, realistic for the times. And yet…I still find myself completely creeped out.
Not just because of the hubba-hubba factor, although that is a bit…blech. But my main issue is that I struggle to root for an almost-thirty guy who would become smitten with a seventeen year-old girl. That’s like a grown man falling in love with a high school Junior. It smacks of creepy.
But all this prancing around on my high horse got me thinking — what is an acceptable age for a romance hero/heroine? I’ve written four contemporary romances in the past year, and I can’t say I’ve ever put conscious thought into the age of my characters.
So I did some reconnaissance on my own books. Apparently my sub-conscious has a very clear image on how old a romance heroine is supposed to be.
In the past four books, my heroines’ ages look like this:
27, 28, 29 and 31.
My heroes are even less varied. Two are 33. Two are 34.
Could it be that I’m guilty of ageism in my books? That despite having friends and family who’ve met “the one” anywhere between age fourteen and seventy, that I somehow think that the ideal age to fall in love is late twenties for a woman and early-mid thirties for a man?
Am I — ahem — inserting my own age and comfort zone into my books? Will my characters age as I do?
Perhaps. Or…maybe I, and many other romance authors use this late-twenty to mid-thirties age range as a median. Knowing that plenty of romance readers start in their pre-teens and continue all the way on up to their golden years, maybe “thirty-ish” is a somewhat safely relatable age for each end of the reader spectrum.
And since I’m already down this rabbit hole — does age even matter? A couple of my favorite romances in which the heroine is in her early twenties, and just look at the explosion of the NA genre. Clearly that age group appeals to readers.
Or, on the flip side, Lisa Kleypas, Kristan Higgins and Roxanne St. Clair have written wonderful romances featuring older heroines falling for younger men.
Yet–I’m in the process of outlining my next romance, and guess what….the heroine? Twenty-seven. Hero? Thirty-three.
At this point in my career, my characters are apparently born into my idea-vault at a certain point in their life.
And you know what? Maybe that’s okay. Maybe my issue with A Kingdom of Dreams isn’t about the heroine’s actual birthday so much as the believability of love with a so-much-older hero.
Maybe in romance — as with real life — the number of candles on your birthday cake isn’t anywhere near as important as the people you choose to celebrate with.
I would love to hear thoughts on this. Do you have a preferred age for the characters in romance novels? What’s uncomfortably too young? Or too old? Are there any fantastic May-December romances out there that I should check out?
Does age matter?
Let’s hear it…
Check out this Sexy Snippet - Spring comes to Star Harbor, bringing unexpected passion for a sexy sheriff, as the next Grayson brother finds love with the town’s beautiful doctor.
“The Star Harbor series just keeps getting better and better! Long Simmering Spring delivers on all counts for heat, heart and humor!” – NYT Bestselling Author, Jennifer Probst
#NewRelease Available in paperback, Karen Robards THE LAST VICTIM - “[An] exceptional storyteller … Leave it to [Karen] Robards to deliver the start of a series that is distinctive and unforgettable!”—RT Book Reviews
Guest Post on www dot romanceatrandom dot com - Crummiest jobs eva … . .
You escape from prison, find your husband’s murderer, hook up with the gorgeous guy who believed in your innocence all along, and live happily ever after.
Well, not exactly—not if you’re Mazie Maguire, and the flow chart of your life looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. Fans of The Escape Diaries will be happy to hear that Mazie’s back and bitchin’ in the upcoming Loveswept release The Cougar Chronicles. She’s broken up
with Bonaparte Labeck, she can’t pay her rent, her car is infested with mice, and she’s working at a coffee shop where the dress code is teddies, thongs, and toe-cleavage heels.
juliet rosettiThings are about to change, however. When Labeck is accused of murdering her maneater boss, Mazie jumps in to help Labeck stay out of the clutches of the law. Strictly as a friend. But how do you keep your thoughts above-the-belt platonic when your “buddy” is giving you a backrub so erotic your vertebrae are orgasming, you’re forced into a full-frontal body clinch to stave off hypothermia, and a make-believe-we’re-
newlyweds charade puts you in mind of wedding nights?
I had fun imagining Mazie’s experiences as a lingerie waitress, and I wondered whether I’d be willing to endure a frostbitten fanny for tips. It wouldn’t be the worst job I ever had—that honor goes to picking cucumbers for an entire summer. Asking around, I discovered that there’s an entire Bad Job Hades out there. Some of your favorite authors and editors weighed in with their crummy job stories:
Sue Grimshaw, Random House’s Editor at Large, contributed this gem: “ I worked at Stark Candy Company on their candy cigarette line flicking off the broken pieces of sue grimshawcigarettes from the automated belt so the bad cigarettes would not get packaged – 5 to midnight shift after
high school – that’s when I knew I had to go to college.”
Ruthie Knox, whose newest book is Big Boy—can’t wait to read it— worked at a company where “I had to cross out page 8 and staple a piece of paper to 15,000 booklets. You know how many 15,000 is? It’s two people, stapling and crossing out, for eight hours a day for five straight days. That is a LOT of stapling and crossing out. Ugh.”
who writes the marvelous Silver Creek novels, once worked as a pea picker. She’d go plant by plant, laura moorepicking the pods, dropping them into a crate and moving on to the next plant—a whole two acres worth.
Crazy customers, anyone? Wendy Vella, author of The Reluctant Countess, had to drive clients around when she was a real estate agent–like the woman who insisted on wearing a face mask and gloves in Wendy’s car. ”When I showed her around the property, a tiny, fluffy dog came running up to greet us—the lady shrieked and
jumped up on my back!”
I’ve always thought it would be fun to be a Santa’s helper, but after hearing Toni Aleo’s story I’m not so sure. Toni, author of the Nashville Assassins series, worked as a Santa’s elf one year. “It was horrible. Kids kicked me, screamed, and even puked on me. It was crazy and I only lasted three weeks!”
How about you,Romance readers? Are you willing to share stories about the crummy, funny, weird, or awful jobs you’ve held? Share them on this blog–our operators are standing by.
Famous for her boa, Barbara Cartland could also rock a giant hat like nobody’s business.
Long, long ago, when I became a freelance editor, my dear friend Rebecca started telling me every time she saw pajama pants on sale. Because I worked at home, you see, she assumed that I never wore real pants. Why would I, if I didn’t have to?
Ah, the glamorous wardrobe of the work-at-home writer. I do, in fact, wear pants, almost every day. My writing uniform is jeans, retired running shoes (currently hot pink, because they were on sale), and a long- or short-sleeved T-shirt, depending on the season. I have never owned a feather boa.
But I might have to buy one soon.
Because, you see, there are balls, when you are a romance writer. No one told me there would be balls!
(Not THAT kind of balls, you dirty thing. I knew about THOSE.)
I’m going to two conferences this year — the RT Booklovers Convention in Kansas City in early May, and the Romance Writers of America convention in Atlanta in July. Both conferences involve a formal-dress event, which normally I’d just sort of half-ass my way through, except RT nominated me for a reader’s choice award (I didn’t win, but still, the honor!) and I’m a finalist for two RITA awards at the RWA conference, which means I really have to buy a new dress! Or even two.
*looks under the couch cushions for pennies*
Rosemary Rogers, I can’t even tell you how impressed I am with this look. Rosemary Rogers, I can’t even tell you how impressed I am with this look.
So, how do romance writers dress? Well, if this Life magazine article from 1981 is any indication, we wear satin dresses slit to the thigh — AND THE NAVEL — and lounge about in bed at our Manhattan pied-à-terres.
(The photographs are by Mary Ellen Mark; the link takes you to the full text of the article and images on her website.)
Gah! Double gah! Gah! Double gah!
Also, we have dead-fox stoles, which, sure. I used to have one of those that my grandma gave me. But the CREEPY DEAD FOX FEET OMG made it impossible for me to keep it, so now it resides at Goodwill.
Danielle Steel, 1981: Poor Little Rich Girl. Danielle Steel, 1981. Is that dog … what IS that dog? I am so alarmed by the dog, I can’t even.
And my four-year-old son spilled ice cream all over my best satin clavicle-baring gown. Which leaves me with no choice but to pull out my Danielle Steel number (did you see the sleeves? did you?) — only, oh no! The sleeves have gone all limp, ravaged by the weight of their own ridiculousness.
In short, I need a new dress. Wanna help me find one? Dress me! All my fashions belong to the people.
Here are the parameters: I am neither particularly young nor particularly old (thirty-five). I am neither thin nor fat (about a US size 10). I have virtually no boobs, a good waist, a little more belly than I might actually wish for, and caboose/hip area that is not kidding around. I’m sort of short – 5’4″ – and I run/hike/walk, so I’ve got some shapely legs, baby.
So, basically, I’m shaped like this, only cuter. So, basically, I’m shaped like this, only cuter.
I recently bought a 1940s English wool tweed skirt suit at a vintage shop and learned that I am exactly the right shape and size for 1940s English wool tweed skirt suits. So if I ever need to pose as, say, Nancy Drew, I’m all set.
Blue eyes, brown hair, the sort of complexion that German/Norwegian Midwestern girls have. Ideally, I’m not spending more than $150 on a dress. If it’s under $100, I will like you a lot more.
Want to play along? Leave links in the comments. If I buy a dress you linked, I will not only give you a $10 Amazon or B&N gift certificate, I will also hug you. If you’re into that kind of thing.
And if you live near Kansas City or Atlanta, come see me! There are big book signings at both conferences, and I’ll be there in my tweed, smiling so much that my cheeks hurt, signing things, and dispensing hugs indiscriminately.
www dot romance at random dot com
Guest Post - Be carful what you say or you may end up in one of my books!
This plaque hangs in my kitchen. When people who don’t know that I actually do write novels visit, they chuckle. My husband, very seriously says, “No, really. She will.”
Do I write real people into my books?
As a writer I’m constantly watching people. I watch how they move. I listen to how they say things. I study everything about them. It’s a habit by now, something I don’t even realize I’m doing. Read more www dot romanceatrandom dot com
Happy Friday - #CoverReveal - #Loveswept author Stacey Kennedy shares her awesome cover for CLAIMED - A novel of erotic discovery and forbidden desire that goes beyond Fifty Shades of Grey.
www dot romanceatrandom dot com
Guest post from New #Loveswept Author - Bronwen Evans!
I’m excited about becoming a Loveswept author! To be working with Sue Grimshaw on a new Regency historical romance, A Kiss of Lies, is wonderful. My book is due for release in January 2014. It might seem a way off, but watch how fast January comes around. Already we’re at the end of April.
A Kiss of Lies is book one in a sensual Regency suspense series called The Disgraced Lords. The series is about a group of Oxford dons, who over a space of a year, are forced to flee England for various reasons. The individual stories focus on each Lord’s drive to clear his name, and earn his place back in English Society. There is laughter, tears, revenge and of course love, along the way.
A Kiss of Lies is about Christian Trent, the Earl of Markham, a wounded, Battle of Waterloo, hero. The gorgeous and charming rake, now badly burned at Waterloo, faces not only an unknown enemy, but he has to confront who he is. He reminds me of Mel Gibson’s character in The Man Without a Face. A man whose world has been turned upside down as he struggles for a new identity. He no longer has the ability to use his beauty to glide through life. He has to look deep inside himself and find out what’s at the core of the man. To say he’s a tortured soul is an understatement, especially when you learn how he was injured!
But I’m not cruel. I bring a remarkable woman, Sarah Cooper, into his life. However, Sarah is hiding demons of her own. She arrives in Christian’s life when he’s at his lowest point, perhaps his salvation.
Both of them have had more than their fair share of pain. Perhaps together they can heal each other. The only problem is, Sarah is hiding a terrible secret and the closer Christian and Sarah grow, the worse her secret gets.
Here’s a wee snippet…
When Christian saw a woman like Mrs Cooper, with such grace and beauty, the pain of all he’d lost swamped him in self-pity.
She sat opposite him, very composed, in a charming if somewhat dated lavender ensemble, the shade flattering her ocean-deep blue eyes. Her hair was pulled back in a casual knot at her nape, the cap making her appear older than he suspected she was. The only thing that seemed out of place was the golden hint of a tan, and a nose covered in delightful freckles, as if she’d been outside for long periods without a hat.
Her vocabulary and demeanor spoke of maturity. As he assessed her, his whole body ached with the most basic human need.
He wanted her. Not just her body, but more…
He wanted the dream he’d promised himself on the battlefields of Europe. A beautiful wife and family, a home, some shred of normality, a few children to carry on the family name, and to give him a tangible reason for having put himself through the pain of surviving.
He watched her nervously lick her lips. His groin tightened. His imagination could almost feel the sleek wetness upon him…
He tried to cross his legs, and hit his knee on the underside of the desk. Reality returned.
He’d be lucky if even a governess agreed to be his wife. The allure of his wealth and title still saw those desperate enough approach him. But he refused to marry a woman who looked at him with revulsion. One who’d marry him for the title, and then lie rigid and cold beneath him in the marriage bed.
This woman unsettled him because she looked at him differently. She looked at him as if he were a kindred soul. As if she understood his pain, and wanted to share it.
Good God. She looked at him as if he were whole…
I hope you’ll bookmark your calendar and follow my Loveswept blog each month. The closer we get to release day, the more I’ll reveal, and there will be giveaways…
To start the ball rolling, tell me what secret you think Sarah Cooper is hiding and be in to win a copy of my self-published novella, To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield. Closes end of April. Open internationally.