Saturday, October 29, 2011

Freezing Point

Recently, Martha featured my latest romance novel, Under the Redwood Tree, on her blog. That story is the first book in a series of contemporary romances I’m writing for Heartsong Presents. In almost all of my Heartsong Presents romances you’ll find an element of mystery or suspense. When I first plotted Seasons of Love, my first novel, the story ended up having elements from both the mystery and the suspense genre and I realized then that I prefer a romance with those elements.

I enjoy reading romantic suspense, but in writing for Heartsong the story must focus on the romance. That means that no matter if there is a suspense element or not, the heart of the story revolves around the romance between hero and heroine. The romance can exist on its own without any other plot elements.

Even though I enjoy reading romantic suspense, so I’m familiar with the genre, I had to take a completely different approach when writing my first romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense—Freezing Point. For LIS, the romance and the suspense plot are both integral to the story. From the first chapter, readers want to see a plot that is both suspenseful and fast-paced. The suspense plot is at the core and the romance is connected to the suspense plot so deeply, that pulling out the romance will kill the story. Neither plot element can survive without the other in a romantic suspense.

Depending on the publishing house, well-paced dialogue will carry most of the story rather than large sections of internalization or description. For me, writing romantic suspense is much easier than writing romance. That might be because its fast-paced so the story goes swiftly for me as the writer and it makes for a quick and fun read for you as the reader.

Thank you, Beth for being with us again this week. Beth is also a Carol Award winner for her book, The Camera Never Lies, a suspense for Barbour. Congratulations on that great award. I love reading suspense or mystery of any kind, and when a romance is involved, the story is even better. I'm in the middle of reading Freezing Point now, and is does move fast, and is keeping me turning pages. I hope to finish it today. Scroll on down for an opportunity to win a copy of Freezing Point. 
Now it's our readers' turn. Elizabeth is giving away a copy of her book to one of you lucky readers.
Leave a comment and answer the question below to enter the drawing. 

Do you enjoy reading suspense thrillers or mysteries? Why or why not?

Please leave your email address so we can contact you. Only those with an email contact will be entered. Sorry this must be limited to the United States and Canada.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Under the Redwood Tree

Where do you get ideas for your main characters, especially Romeo Merete in Under the Redwood Tree?

Well, this isn’t very romantic but sometimes when I need to come up with ideas I take an afternoon and sit outside in the quiet and just think random thoughts! I started with an artist and then, when considering the hero, it occurred to me that her wanting to paint him without his terrible facial scar would create a lot of conflict. When I began doing the research on soldiers in the Middle East and the IED’s or improvised explosive devices, I was horrified to read about how these bombs disfigure the soldiers. It broke my heart, and I knew this was right for Romeo.

How interesting. I've read about some of those men who were so scarred.  Tell us a little more about this young man and who he is.
 Romeo is an impulsive man who often acts rashly based on anger or other emotions, and this time, his actions end up sending him to the other side of the world. He has to find his way back both emotionally, and in a way, physically. He knows the Lord, but it’s still a journey for him to find himself again.

I'm looking forward to reading his story. What was the most interesting thing about writing this story?
This was a new kind of story for me. It was more of a “heart” story. I had to dig really deep to understand how Romeo would feel with his disfigurement, and how he would progress to trust again. The story was also interesting to me because the Redwood trees are one of my favorite things in the world. Writing the story was like being there again. Looking at the cover of the book takes me back there.

I understand, Beth. My last book was hard to write because of the subject matter and I had to dig deep inside myself to understand my hero. It makes your writing more meaningful for you and the reader.
How much research did you have to do for this book?
I probably had to do a little less research on this book than some of the others. After all, I have experience as an artist and my husband knows motorcycles. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Redwoods, specifically Jedediah Smith State Park where some of the story takes place. I also visited the little Victorian town on the Northern California coast, though my town in the story is fictional.

Sounds like you enjoyed this research. :) I love research that takes me places like that.
What is your writing schedule like?
Crazy and hectic. Usually I get some time in during the morning before we start home school, and then some in the afternoon. I shoot for between 1 and 4, but often I catch snippets of writing time anywhere I can. And when I coming up on a deadline, I write and edit for ten or more hours a stretch.
Ahh, the romantic life of a writer. :)
Which book has been your favorite to write?
You would have to ask that question. I love the one I’m writing at the time. How’s that for an answer. I will say that I just turned in Oregon Outback and I really loved the heroes in the four novellas of that collection. I wrote all four, by the way. Finishing up the writing on that was like ending a good book—you don’t want it to end.

I know the feeling. I end up loving all my books.
What made you start writing mysteries?
Writing mysteries is just a natural for me—I found out. Even in my first book, Seasons of Love, I put in a puzzle or a mystery, for the reader to work on. Someone told me that my story is full of mystery elements, hence, I decided to try writing a mystery and The Camera Never Lies was born.

I love mysteries, so keep writing them so I can read them. Of course The Camera Never Lies is great and a Carol Award winner. That's fantastic
Tell us about your very first contract.
I mentioned that above, but I brainstormed with Lisa Harris and we invited Lena Nelson Dooley to join the three book series set in Massachusetts. Years before I’d seen a news clip on cranberry farming which intrigued me. I knew I wanted to use that for a story setting one day and tada!
And it was a good one.
What is the main theme of your stories?
Each story is a little different and the themes sort of grow organically. I don’t set up, at least these days, writing toward a particular theme. What I’m seeing most, though, are women who are trying to find themselves, trying to figure out who they are and where they want to go. In the end, it’s a matter of trusting God to guide the way.
And that's the best way.
What do you want your readers to take away from reading your books?
God is always there to help and guide us.
I will say Amen to that and thank you for being with us.

A war hero’s scars are still raw to the touch until a gifted artist paints his heart. Romeo Merete was wounded in Afghanistan, and multiple surgeries couldn’t restore his face. But his scars run deeper than he ever imagined, and the last thing he expects is the beautiful artist who looks straight through him, threatening to expose his heart.

Camille Westover is one contest away from her dream of an art school scholarship. But she’s lost her inspiration to paint—until a wounded soldier captures her heart. Unfortunately, her dream could lead her far from the one place and the one person she loves the most.

When Camille’s chances of winning are sabotaged and a possible stalker suspected, Romeo is concerned for more than losing the woman he loves to her dream. Can he accept the truth of what Camille sees when she looks at him? Will Camille discover the hope of love that stands before her?

If you'd like a copy of the book, Under the Redwood Tree, answer the question below and leave your name and email address.

What is you favorite type of hero?