Thursday, February 28, 2008

Roots of An Idea

People often ask writers where they get their ideas. I try to simplify the answer wherever possible because, honestly, it’s a complicated business. Take for instance my upcoming release, A KNIGHT MOST WICKED. I started out with a couple of very general concepts that I wanted to weave into a backdrop of a story. I didn’t have a couple in mind. No conflict in mind. I had a setting. An ambiance. A mood. I wanted to write a book set in Bohemia.

I made decisions very quickly from there. If you’ve ever picked up Malcolm Gladwell’s BLINK, you’ve heard about his ideas of “thin slicing” and the rapid cognition processes our brains go through when we’re making judgments or—in my case—brainstorming. I think I came up with Bohemia for a setting because I wanted to write a bohemian character. I believe this because, honestly, I had no idea when or exactly where Bohemia existed. But I quickly oriented myself and discovered Bohemia was a historical country located in what is current Czechoslovakia. The historical country existed from the eleventh century to World War I.

Futhermore, in thinking I wanted a bohemian character, I actually didn’t do a bad job in searching for the physical region of Bohemia. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, bohemian means “’a gypsy of society,’ 1848, from Fr. bohemiĆ©n (1559), from the country name, from M.Fr. Boheme "Bohemia." Aha! And as luck would have it, my bohemian heroine would have secret gypsy roots, so I’d come to the right place.

I believe I knew all of this in the back of my mind. The knowledge wasn’t certain or accessible, but I’d no doubt been exposed to it at some point and it surfaced when I needed it. I think some of my creative processes support some of Gladwell’s BLINK ideas. Once I had my gypsy heroine and my Bohemia setting, the rest of the story came together in a flash. I searched for an intriguing time in history and came up with 1380, when Princess Anne of Bohemia gathered a huge retinue to accompany her to England to wed Richard II. The retinue had to be impressive since her dowry was not. And that’s how I worked my heroine with an unusual background into the glittering royal company.

*** I’ll be giving away copies of A KNIGHT MOST WICKED at my website starting this weekend. Please do drop by for a chance to win!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Moonlight and Romance

Moonstruck is a favorite movie of mine. Seemingly star-crossed lovers overcome the odds to claim a forbidden romance, and they are egged on—despite their naysaying relatives—by the irresistible draw of the moon. Sound far-fetched? Not according to romantic lore throughout the ages.

One of my mother’s favorite tunes is “Moonglow,” a song made all the more famous by an unforgettable dance scene between William Holden and Kim Novak in Picnic. The lyrics suggest “It must have been moonglow… that moonglow gave me you.” The tie between romance and moonlight is clear. One of my personal favorites is “Harvest Moon,” a Neil Young song that extends an invitation to dance in the moonlight. “Because I’m still in love with you, I want to see you dance again, on this harvest moon.” “Moonlight Serenade” is a Glenn Miller classic. What intrigues me about the songs is not just that they wax romantic about the moon, but that they suggest moonlight and dancing go hand and hand.

Some of that might reverberate right back to our most pagan roots. The full moon and the light it offered provided a time to celebrate community rituals. Dancing would accompany these ceremonies, especially when they offered praise and thanksgiving. Or when they celebrated the harvest and fertility. So the moon’s association with romance is wound deep in our cultural roots.
Even today, scientists struggle to pinpoint the reason for the statistical increase in crimes near the full moon and new moon or the increase in conceptions around the full moon. Could it be that our bodies, made up of so much water, respond to a kind of physiological tide? Or is it simply that the full moon beckons us to dance and make romance. For the maladjusted and emotionally disturbed, perhaps that call takes on a negative connotation the rest of us don’t feel.

Whatever it is, I tapped the moonlight and romance connection for A KNIGHT MOST WICKED, providing the hero an opportunity to teach the heroine to dance under the soft glow of the moon. My 14th century healer could not resist anymore than Loretta Castorini could turn away Ronny Cammareri in Moonstruck. No matter how much Loretta wants to make the practical marriage choice, la bella luna brings her to the doorstep of her finance’s brother.

After the moon has its way with the characters, a choice based on love is her only option. And as a romance writer, I can’t help but enjoy that magical draw of the moon.
***Do you have a favorite moon song or moon scene?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

HH February Release: Outlaw Bride by Jenna Kernan

Outlaw Bride
Breaking him out of prison was the easy part…Bridget Callaghan was willing to do anything to save her family, stranded in the Cascade Mountains. The only man who could attempt such a treacherous rescue mission was Cole Ellis, but he was behind bars—and condemned to hang!Bridget's boldness in breaking him out of jail was the jolt Cole needed to give his life purpose again. But with a posse at their heels and the mountain looming, she couldn't help but wonder if putting her trust in this tough, life-hardened man wasn't the biggest danger of all….
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Outlaw Bride

HH February Release: The Wayward Debutante by Sarah Elliot

The Wayward Debutante
She Tempted Fate, Then Fate Tempted Her…It was utterly scandalous for a young lady to attend the London theater unchaperoned. She could easily have been mistaken for a woman of easy virtue. Yet Eleanor Sinclair loathed stuffy ballrooms packed with fretful mothers and husband-hunting girls. Craving escape, she donned a wig and disappeared into the night.There she caught the eye of James Bentley, a handsome devil with a wry wit. He played a game of seduction that imperiled Eleanor's disguise—and tempted her to forsake all honor….

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HH February Release: Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss by Deb Marlowe

Scandalous Lord, Rebellious Miss
The Wicked Lord DayleCharles Alden, Viscount Dayle, is intent on reform, having misspent his youth on hard living, soft women and outrageous pranks. Forced by circumstance to hold a title he never wanted, he's determined to live up to his noble name.The Unconventional Miss WestbySophie Westby is the last woman who should attract his interest. And yet she comforts his battered spirit, captivates his wary mind and tempts him with her exotic beauty. But the reformed rake cannot cause another scandal—can he?

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HH FebruaryRelease: Surrender to the HIghland by Terri Brisbin

Surrender to the Highlander
Torn between honor and desire…Innocent Margriet Gunnarsdottir carried a heavy secret. She faced a perilous journey to the wild and distant north of Scotland, and her safety lay in her adopted disguise—a nun's habit! But her only protector, a proud, rough-hewn Highlander, made her ache to share her crushing burden.Rurik Erengislsson had sworn to see her home and unharmed. A woman promised to the service of God should be shielded and honored—not desired! Yet Rurik was tempted beyond reason to make this beautiful waif his own.

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HH February Release: An Honorable Rogue by Carol Townend

An Honorable Rogue
Charmed and Seduced!Benedict Silvester is a rogue and a flirt! His skill as a musician means he is always traveling…and he charms women wherever he goes. Yet he is on a special mission: to accompany Rozenn Kerber to England.Rose is frustrated with Ben's frivolous behavior and annoyed that his wicked smile continually occupies her thoughts, for he can never offer the stability she craves. But on their travels, Rose begins to suspect that he may have a serious side, that Ben is more than he appears….

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HH February Release: Housemaid Heiress by Elizabeth Beacon

Housemaid Heiress
Heiress's DiversionsAn heiress, thinks spoiled Miss Alethea Hardy, should rise late, dress elegantly and marry well.Housemaid's DutiesA far cry from her new responsibilities—up at dawn to fetch and carry for her betters!In running away from a repulsive proposal, Thea has ruined herself. Until she meets Marcus Ashfield, Viscount Strensham, who seems to see the beautiful woman behind the dowdy uniform. Such a devastatingly handsome, arrogant lord can't be interested in a lowly maid…can he?Upstairs, Downstairs…The secret life of the Regency servant!

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