Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hero Archetypes--How do Intrigue heroes fit in?

Are you guys familiar with the hero archetypes? Chief, Warrior, Best Friend, Professor, Swashbuckler, Charmer, Lost Soul? (there may be others, but that's what I remember off the top of my head)

I think that the best heroes are usually a combination of a couple of archetypes--I mean, a pure Chief could be an absolute bully, and a pure Charmer would be undependable, for example--and neither bullying or being undependable are traits I want in real life or in my stories.

There are certain times when it is awfully nice to have a guy take charge and ensure protection when facing danger (like in an Intrigue). But I like the idea of the Chief emerging when called upon to get the job done, but then being able to let other, more palatable traits surface at other times so that he is more well-rounded and, frankly, a better catch for the heroine.

When I first started plotting out my Taylor Clan books, I didn't know about the archetypes--but as the series went along, I realized each hero fit into one of the archetype categories (not entirely--again, I like a well-rounded man--or at least one who can rediscover other facets of his personality or learn new ones, so he's not so one-dimensional). I was just looking for variety in setting up the family, and variety in my writing so I didn't feel I was writing the same book each time. Who knew?

Because they were cops, and because they stepped up to the plate to face dangerous situations and protect the people they loved, they all had some degree of alpha in them (don't think I could write a true beta), so they all have some degree of Warrior. But they had aspects of other archetypes in them. I think I ended up with...

ONE GOOD MAN--Mitch was a Chief w/ some Lost Soul in him
SUDDEN ENGAGEMENT--Brett was a Best Friend w/ some Chief in him
IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE--Mac was a Professor w/ some Lost Soul in him
THE ROOKIE--Josh was a Charmer w/ some Swashbuckler in him
KANSAS CITY'S BRAVEST--Gideon was a Best Friend w/ some Warrior in him
UNSANCTIONED MEMORIES--Sam was a Warrior w/ some Bad Boy in him
LAST MAN STANDING--Cole was a Bad Boy w/ some Lost Soul in him

Hmm... I see lots of Lost Souls (man, I love those tortured types! )

Now, I'm analyzing other stories to see what I've done, and what other authors have done in some of my favorite books. This is a great "lesson" to help me procrastinate from my writing.

What are some of your favorite hero archetypes to find in an Intrigue?

Julie Miller
(watch for my summer contest, starting June 21!)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mindfulness Meditation

I'm trying to get a hang of meditation and I finally found one that might just work. It's called mindfulness meditation, which means to be mindful of the present moment and pay attention to it fully/appreciate it. I find I can do this much easier than the "try to think of nothing" version of meditation. Anyone else meditates?

I'm in the final stretch of my current book, tentatively titled NO ORDINARY SHEIK. The book is due on June 1st. Yikes! I have the whole manuscript printed so I can reread it one more time. My opinion changes with every read. On one read, "oh, it's the worst I've ever written, the editor will send it back," then I read it again, and I think, "oh, it's fabulous. I'm sooo gooood." :-) I lose all perspective by this stage of the writing process.

Thank you to everyone who wrote about IRONCLAD COVER book 2 of my MISSION REDEMPTION series that started with SECRET CONTRACT last month. (These are my Charlie's Angels meet The Dirty Dozen books.) For a great trailer made by a husband that I appreciate more than words can say and excerpts, please visit

What is everyone reading these days? I'm rereading some old Sidney Sheldon favorites.


Sunday, May 27, 2007

Royal Lockdown

I'd like to tell you about the Intrigue I've got coming out in June. It's
ROYAL LOCKDOWN (ISBN: 0373692617, Harlequin Intrigue), the first book in the Lights Out series, takes place during a night of panic in Boston. At a glittering international reception at the top of the John Hancock Tower, Princess Ariana of Beau Pays and security expert Shane Peters are mesmerized by each other. Then terrorists invade the reception, capturing the guests and threatening to kill them one by one, starting with Princess Ariana, if they don't turn over the vice president of the United States (who has hidden in a closet).

Shane and Ariana escape, only to find themselves on the run from a man who will stop at nothing to kill them both. And at the same time, the passion smoldering between them reaches flash point. But is it possible for these two very different people to forge a meaningful relationship?

I loved getting into Ariana’s head. She was so up tight at the beginning of the story that she wouldn’t even dance with Shane. By the end of the book, she’s making love in the back of a limo.

I also loved researching the Boston locations for this book-from Copley Square to the undercroft of Trinity Church to the beautiful residential neighborhoods of the Back Bay.

I think Ariana looks beautiful on the cover. I'm a little worried about Shane. To me, he looks like he just escaped from Starfleet Academy.

I'll be signing ROYAL LOCKDOWN at the Harlequin booth at BEA this coming Saturday from 2-2:45. If you're at the convention, I'd love to see you.

Rebecca York

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Eighties Rocked!

The one question writers are most often asked is: Where do you get your ideas? The answer, of course, is everywhere--the news, movies, dreams, and as Rebecca York and Joanna Wayne blogged below, real life.

Back in the eighties when I first began to seriously consider a professional writing career, music was a huge influence on me. My first book was inspired by the Echo and the Bunnymen song, "The Killing Moon." It's still one of my favorite songs, and after more than twenty years, I'm afraid it's held up better than my book.

So without further ado, I present the very eighties-looking cover of my first book, and the still fabulous video of "The Killing Moon".

Amanda Stevens

Friday, May 25, 2007

New western series

In responst to Rebecca York, I'd have to say that my life experiences always creep into my writing. One of my first books, Behind the Mask, was a direct result from an experience at a Mardi Gras Parade. Not that I witnessed a murder, but I saw a curtain blowing at a turret window and realized that if something had been happening there, I would be the only one who saw it. Everyone else was totally focused on the throws being tossed from a stopped float.

The idea for Another Woman's Baby came from my wanting to rent a house at the beach instead of a condo when my husband and I used to spend the month of November at Orange Beach in Alabama. I knew I'd be fine as long as he was around, but when he had to make a trip back to New Orleans on business, I'd be alone in a big house on a deserted beach in the winter. So I had to use that fear in a book.

And one week on a ranch in south Texas was all it took for me to fall in love with cowboys. 24-Karat Ammunition is the lead book for my new western series, Four Brothers of Colts Run Cross. The series is about the Collingsworths, a family similar to the Ewings in the TV series Dallas in that they have a large ranch and an oil company. But the Collingsworth men have scruples and as you can see from the picture above, they are extremely sexy. 24 Karat Ammunition comes out in July.

It would be great to hear from some readers on this post. Anyone like cowboys???

Joanna Wayne

My Life--in my books

People often ask me, do you use your real life in your books? There are a number of experiences that I've used. One that has served me well is almost getting killed in a car crash. Okay, that's a slight exageration. But I WOULD HAVE gotten seriously hurt if I hadn't been wearing my seat belt. It was a rainy night with water pouring down the road. Somehow the water got in our engine and froze it. So we were stuck in the right lane of US Route 29 when a car came barreling along behind us and slammed into us. I remember being thrown forward--and the seat belt pulling me back. Otherwise, I would have crashed into the windshield with my head. I also remember the sensation of it happening in "slow motion." Time really did slow down so those few seconds stretched out for a long time. I'm getting a chill writing about it now. And I often use that slow motion sensation in terror scenes.

About ten years ago, our electricity went off, and I was looking for a flashlight. I miscalculated where the hall was and ended up pitching all the way down the basement stairs head first. Also in slow motion. I really am lucky that I didn't break my neck. It's all how you land. And I landed on my shoulder. I dislocated the shoulder and broke the bone at the top of my arm. I use THAT experience when I want to write about PAIN.

So what about you? If you're a writer, how does you life creep into your books?

Rebecca York

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Colorado Cowboys

When you think of cowboys, do you think mostly of Texas, Montana, or Wyoming?
In COWBOY SANCTUARY, my setting is a ranch in Colorado. What better setting is there than the backdrop of the Rocky Mountains?

What's your favorite location for cowboys?

New Mexico
South Dakota
North Dakota
(I won't list all of them. I know there are cowboys in all the states)

Or do you prefer your cowboys in the Outback of Australia or maybe in South America or Canada or Mexico?

Let's hear from you! What's your favorite setting for cowboys?

Elle James

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Win a Book Day!

Mallory Kane here--
JUROR NO. 7 is my new Intrigue out this month (May). To celebrate the release, I'm giving away one of my backlist books to one lucky reader.

My heroine in JUROR No. 7 is trying to do the right thing by voting to convict a mob hitman, even though her life is threatened. And the man who's assigned to lean on her is an undercover cop, so he can't tell her he's one of the good guys.

Have you ever served on a jury? Do you have a weird or funny story about your experience? Tell us about it and I'll put your name in the drawing for the book!

Looking forward to hearing your stories...

Mallory Kane

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Summer Movies and Reads

Okay, I'm making my list (and checking it twice), but I need some help. I LOVE the summer movies and books, but I always try to write a list so I don't miss something good. Here's what I have so far.


Harry Potter
Pirates of the Caribbean
Shrek 3
Fantastic Four
The Bourne Ultimatum
Ocean's 13
Knocked Up

High Noon, Nora Roberts
Harry Potter
The Husband, Dean Koontz
Lean Mean Thirteen, Janet Evanovich
Up Close and Dangerous, Linda Howard

Obviously, those lists are waaaaaay too short, so please help me add to them. What movies and books are musts for you this summer?

Oh, and while you're thinking, check out the cover for my latest Intrigue. :)

Delores Fossen

Monday, May 21, 2007

What makes great romantic suspense?

If you haven't seen me here before, it's because I've been busy. I have a lot of deadlines looming. And I’ve been traveling every month. In a couple of weeks, I’m going to BEA (the big booksellers convention), where I’ll be signing books at the Harlequin booth. In July I'm going to Thrillerfest. And last month I was at RT in Houston. I was on a couple of panels. One was on romantic suspense. One was a thriller panel. Tracy Montoya did a fantastic job of moderating the romantic suspense panel. The topic was “Don’t Plot Me to Death.”

I had to laugh when I found out that was my assignment. My specialty IS plot. So the panel forced me to think about how I make plot work with the other elements in a book.

I used to cringe when people would ask,” is your book plot driven or character driven?” If you write romances the plot is SUPPOSED to be character driven. Yes, my Intrigues are plot driven. Bad things happen. The villain comes at the h/h with a knife or a gun. Electric wires fray. Bridges collapse. Children are kidnapped. But the most important thing about each event is how the characters react. Really, you can’t separate plot and character. They must function together to make your book work. It’s like pie a la mode. The ice cream melts into the pie, and you can’t separate them once they are fused.

You can write an exciting scene where the hero is hanging off a cliff clinging to a fraying rope. But what gives the scene heart pounding suspense is the heroine’s fear for the hero as she tries frantically to save him. And making the romance jack up the emotions is the icing on the cake, to use another food metaphor. These people are falling in love against a background of suspense and danger, and they know they may die tomorrow.

If you’re reading this, you must be a fan of romantic suspense.
What do you love about this kind of book?

Rebecca York

New Intrigue Cover

Hey, gang! I just wanted to share the cover for my August 07 Intrigue, UP AGAINST THE WALL. This book is the first of a 2-book mini-series called The Precinct: Vice Squad, a spin-off from my regular Precinct books because these two share a story, as well as familiar faces from my Taylor Clan and Precinct books.

Be sure to check my website in July, too, where I'll be holding a "sleuthing" contest. The winner will have to use his/her detective skills to win a couple of free books.

Actually, the contest is a fun way for me to make the most out of a mistake that was printed in my last Intrigue, BEAST IN THE TOWER. Bwa-ha-ha! (that's my fun evil laugh)

I see that Amanda talked about the Romantic Times conference. I had a great time, too--it's always cool to meet readers and reconnect with writing buddies. Though I must say, my travel down to the Houston conference was more of an adventure than I was hoping for. I did some sightseeing with my friend, author Sherry James, too, while we were there. Let me just say that for a Nebraska girl, I think I know Houston's streets and highways pretty darn well now. We never got lost--we just had the wrong address for something we were looking for. (sigh) I know there's a story there.

Take care.

Julie Miller

Sunday, May 20, 2007

"She's Alive!"

As writers, we know how important it is to breathe life into our characters. Without emotional and well-motivated characters, we’re basically just writing a series of events that may provide momentary excitement or entertainment, but will fail to draw the reader deeply into the story and provide a satisfactory and lasting experience. Rachel Ballon says it's important for readers to become completely engrossed in the emotional world of our characters.

But what happens when the writer becomes a little too emotionally involved with his/her own characters?

Amanda Stevens

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Adventures in the Fire Department with Ann Voss Peterson

I had such a great experience in my local citizen’s police academy (see my previous blog entry), I signed up for the fire department citizen’s academy. And what an adventure I had!

Week One: Intro, Tour and Turn-Out Gear.
We started with trucks and ended with fashion. After a presentation by the chief, we took a tour of the fire station, including a peek inside all those trucks. The array of equipment is really quite amazing, including ladder trucks, pumper trucks and even an ATV. Then the fashion show began. We each were issued turn out gear! Yep, the pants and coats, the boots and helmets, not to mention gloves and face masks. As you can see from the photos, I’m ready to strut down the runway.
Week Two: Search and Rescue!
This week we had to put those fancy duds to use. We started by learning how to use SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus–just like SCUBA, without the underwater part). Then we practiced searching for downed victims. In two person teams, we started with a dark apartment to get the techniques down, then moved to an apartment filled with so much smoke, we couldn’t see our hands in front of our faces. At the end of the night, we entered the same room using thermal imaging cameras, and I can tell you, they make search and rescue a breeze. No fire department should be without them! I ended up with bruised and blistered knees and a healthy appreciation for the amazing obstacles firefighters must overcome.

Week Three: Fire Investigation
A wealth of information for a writer! We started by learning about how fires burn and the clues they leave behind. Then we had to put our new knowledge into practice. After splitting into two teams, we were each given a burned room to process, making notes of our observations, taking pictures of the evidence and interviewing firefighters posing as residents. Once we compiled all of our evidence, we had to explain how the fire started and whether it was accidental or a possible arson.

Week Four: Extrication (AKA Destroying Cars) You didn’t know a firefighter’s job includes destroying cars? Well, it does if someone is trapped inside. This week we used hydraulic cutting and spreading tools to remove doors, roll back dashboards and cut off roofs. I truly never thought I’d enjoy destroying cars, but it was a blast. Also a lot of work. I was sore for days. The tools are powerful but heavy.

Week Five: Firefighter Skills
Firefighter training camp. This night, we moved from station to station, learning some of the different skills firefighters must master in order to do their jobs. I jumped on the chance to repel down the hose tower. But once clinging to the platform looking down at the concrete floor below, my body decided it didn’t want to let go and hang on that flimsy little rope. I’m happy to say I conquered my fear, and then repelled down the tower as many times as I could. Some of the other skills we practiced were: using fire extinguishers, handling hoses, ventilating a roof with an axe, climbing ladders and entering the second floor of a house in full gear, and forcible entry and exit. We also learned how portable tanks are used to hold water to fight rural fires.

Week Six: A Visit with the Police
As we visited the fire department as part of the police academy, we visited the police department as part of the fire academy. It was fun to see old friends, and even though I’d toured the police station before, I still learned many new details my readers will see in upcoming books!

Week Seven: Ice Rescue
Since we have many lakes and ponds in the area, my local fire department must be prepared to rescue people who have fallen through ice. But I had no idea how much specialized equipment was involved in ice rescue. We donned watertight rubber suits and learned to paddle an lightweight pontoon raft to a victim, secure the victim to the raft, and signal the rest of the crew to pull us to shore. Afterwards we rode the aerial ladder and practiced with our SCBA gear to prepare for the final week.

Week Eight: The Big Burn (AKA Trial By Fire)
I have to admit, I was pretty nervous about trying out my training in a live fire situation. But once we started, I felt thoroughly prepared for everything we faced. After touring the live burn training structure, we sat in a room with a wood and paper fire while the chief demonstrated fire rollover and smoke stratification. Then we took turns damping down the fire by spraying the hose on the ceiling above. It was a good thing we wore all that gear and our SCBA since the temperature in the room soared over 700 degrees!
Once the entire three-story structure was hot and filled with smoke, we practiced our search and rescue techniques on the upper floors. This time we wore knee pads, but my knees were still a bit scorched from the heat. The experience was intensely hot and challenging, and one I will never forget. A fitting culmination to an amazing adventure!

If you'd like to check out more pics, click over to my website,!

Friday, May 4, 2007

A Tribute to Villains

I mentioned in an earlier blog that B. J. Daniels, Joanna Wayne and I gave a workshop entitled “Killers to Die For” at the RT Conference. As we were preparing for our presentation, we surprised ourselves by how differently we three view our villains. Which shouldn’t have surprised us, considering we have very different writing styles.

B. J. likes to write what she calls a ‘soft’ villain, someone who does bad things because he or she has been backed into a corner. Someone who is, more often than not, personally connected to the hero and/or heroine.

Joanna prefers the psychological villain, the kind who likes to get inside his victims’ heads and mess with their minds. This person usually gets off on the game as much as he does the kill.

I’m into the deranged, scary, psycho villain. The predator without a conscience. These whack jobs scare me the most because you can’t protect yourself from them. If you fall into their specific criteria, they’ll find you.

So tell us what kind of villain you prefer and who your all-time favorite bad guys are. You can have more than one.

And now for my tribute to villains:

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Why We Love Intrigues

Ever ask yourself why people are so drawn to intrigue stories? Leading box office films last weekend were intrigue-related including: DISTURBIA, THE INVISIBLE, NEXT and FRACTURED.

I think one reason we love our intrigues is because we like to figure out the puzzle along with the characters. Think about how powerful THE SIXTH SENSE was when you finally got to the end and said, “Ah-ha, it all makes sense now!”

Suspense also takes us on a wild ride. Although you know in a romance everything will turn out fine, the tension builds throughout the book and there’s always that question in your mind: will the hero and heroine make it out alive and in love?

Why do you enjoy reading Intrigues? Share your thoughts and I’ll enter your name in a contest to win a copy of my February release, THE ENGLISH DETECTIVE AND THE ROOKIE AGENT.


Pat White

RT Conference

I've just returned from the Romantic Times Book Lovers Convention in Houston where I got to hang out with a lot of very cool readers and writers.

On Tuesday afternoon, I headed downtown to meet up with two of my favorite writing buddies, B. J. Daniels and Joanna Wayne, to brainstorm our workshop "Killers to Die For", which we presented on Friday afternoon. I always get a little wound up before public speaking engagements, but the atmosphere was very casual and we had a lot of audience participation. The presentation actually went really well and we had a lot of fun, despite the fact that I inadvertently gave away the ending of THE DOLLMAKER. Doh! Turned out okay, though, because several members of the audience showed up at the huge book signing the next day and bought my book anyway. So it was all good.

And speaking of the book signing, one reader came by (Hi Pat!) who had brought over four hundred Intrigues with her. I was thrilled to sign my books for her, but the best part was getting to meet face-to-face such a devoted Intrigue fan.

The conference was great and I loved catching up with all my friends and meeting new ones, but as always, I was very glad to get home and get back to my writing routine. I'm working on my second thriller for MIRA Books, THE DEVIL'S FOOTPRINTS, and I just got a sneak peek at the cover. I won't say much about it at this point except that it is very eerie and creepy and the concept is awesome. I love it.

Amanda Stevens