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The Emotion Thesaurus – An Updated Issue on the Way!

Getting emotion into a romance is one of the hardest jobs of a writer. Stringing words together to make a story seem real and rounded, one that draws the reader into the world the writer has created is plain hard. A few years ago Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi wrote a book called the Emotion Thesaurus. I, along with many other writers, embraced this book, making it part of my craft library. Since then Angela and Becca have written several other guides just for writers on topics such as positive traits, emotional wounds in characters, and settings.

This year, they announced they’d done an updated version of the original Emotion Thesaurus, adding new entries and giving us new emotions to help with our book writing.

The Emotion Thesaurus, the updated version, is due out on 19 Feb 2019.

The Emotion Thesaurus

You can pre-order your copy at online retailers.

Writing Update for February: What Is Coming Next?

Writing Update

2019. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you’ll know I started with a holiday, but writing was never far from my mind.

This is what I’ve been working on and these projects will be available for readers very soon.

So just how did the Mitchell family from my Middlemarch Shifters series get to Dunedin?

My Scottish Lass is a prequel to the series and answers this question. In this novella, you’ll meet Rory and Ainslie, ancestors to the present-day Mitchell family. This prequel will only be available for those who subscribe to my newsletter. If you’re already signed up to receive my newsletter, watch this space. Currently, I’m waiting for the cover.

Stranded with Ella, book 4 in my Military Men series:

I’ve just delivered this manuscript to my editor. It features Dillon Williams, brother of the heroine from book 1 in the series. We meet Ella Liddington-Walsh who is the opposite of pragmatic Dillon, yet they fit.

Currently working on:

Last week, I started working on Black Moon Dragon, which is book 3 in my Dragon Investigators series. The hero for this one is Manu Taniwha who we met in Blood Moon Dragon, book 2. The heroine is Jessalyn Brown who is part human and part dragon, although this comes as a huge surprise to her.

A freebie:

If you’re a contemporary romance fan, check out Secret Lovers. This is the first book in the Love and Friendship series and it is set in Auckland, New Zealand. Right now, you can get this book at your favorite retailer for free.

A Writing Companion and Assistant

Writing is a solitary occupation—at least the first part of the book writing process is done alone. I do most of my writing sitting in my La-Z-Boy chair or if I want a change of scenery, I head out to a café.

When I write at home, I have an assistant. Here she is…meet Bella.

Assistant Bella

Bella’s job—as she sees it:

1. To make sure I don’t suffer from bottom spread. She nags me with loud barks when it’s time for me to do some exercise.

2. To take regular meal breaks. Again, her barking gets my attention, but she also comes to me chair and makes sure I haven’t missed the message that it’s food time.

3. To collect the mail. She likes to know that we can afford to pay for her food during the coming month and likes checks almost as much as I do.

4. To discourage door-to-door salesmen. No one should distract her partner when she’s in writing mode.

5. To suggest plotting breaks. She signals this by appearing with a tennis ball or her favorite toy.

6. To dispense cuddles when the writing isn’t going well. She edges her way onto my chair, nudging the laptop out of the way.

We have a pretty good partnership, Bella and I, and her excellent understanding of what makes a happy author brings fun to my writing process.

Do you have someone who helps you during the writing process or keeps you company when you’re reading?

Thirteen Ways I Learned to Write About Sex

I’m thrilled to welcome Marian Perera, a fellow Samhain Publishing author. She’s celebrating the release of her paranormal fantasy romance, The Highest Tide and has a fun post about sex. Smile with tongue out

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen ways I learned to write about sex

Thanks for hosting me, Shelley! I like interesting lists, so when I found your blog I read through all the Thursday13 posts first. Those gave me the idea of this guest post.

But here’s the story behind it. I grew up in the Middle East, in a devoutly religious family, a sex-segregated school and an extremely conservative country. How conservative? If a couple kissed on a TV show, this was cut out before the show was broadcast. So speaking of kisses, my first had to wait until I went to college in the States. I was that sheltered.

And now I write romances with explicit sex in them.

Of course, this transition from saint to sinner didn’t happen all at once. So here are a few of the steps I took to become an enthusiastic proponent of the open-bedroom-door policy…

1. Read every romance novel I could lay my hands on, from Sweet Savage Love onwards.

2. Bought and read Stacia Kane’s book Be A Sex-Writing Strumpet. The book is so blunt it overcame a lot of my inhibitions.

3. Reminded myself that it’s not about what I’ve been taught, or what my family believes. It’s about what’s right for the characters and the story.

4. Reminded myself that my editors have read hundreds of steamy romances, so there’s no need to be embarrassed if they refer to certain, uh, technical aspects of the scenes.

5. Kept sex scenes in-character. If the couple enjoy verbal teasing, there can be a rest in the action where they playfully spar with each other.

6. Put the characters in unusual locations. Not only is this fun, I get to think about where they could have sex long before they reach that point. Cave on a deserted island? Got it. Inside a hollow baobab tree? Came out earlier this year.

7. Pushed my personal envelope. Most of my romances are a slow burn where the sexual tension builds up until the characters finally give in. With The Highest Tide, they got their clothes off in the first chapter—and had good reason to do so.

8. Used sex to heighten the characters’ emotional struggle. At the end of The Coldest Sea (coming out later this year), the heroine has settled down with a job she enjoys, and she reluctantly tells the hero, a freighter captain, that she can’t just leave to marry him. So he makes love to her in an intense, the-last-time-we’ll-have-each-other way. The story ends happily, but I milked that scene for all it was worth in terms of heartache.

9. Read some really bad sex scenes. It’s good to know what not to do—for instance, I don’t believe it’s ever arousing to mention the heroine’s urethra.

10. Learned to drop the occasional f-bomb. I don’t use this word very often, so when it occurs—especially when the hero says it in a sexually charged moment—it packs a punch.

11. Held true to my convictions. I believe that even in fiction, when a woman says no, a man should back off (unless they’re play-acting or the scene is written as assault). So I’ve written hot makeout scenes which stopped when the heroine remembered a good reason not to go further. That made it even better when she did want it.

12. Figured out how to incorporate contraceptives into fantasy romance. Or, if they’re not used, to show why not. One of my heroines is infertile, and knows she is, and doesn’t end up with a surprise baby at the end.

13. Wrote sexy fanfics. Less pressure there. Plus, they were Transformers fanfics. If I can write about giant robots having sex, I can write about anyone having sex.

Bio : Marian Perera started reading fantasy at 6 when she found a huge hardcover copy of The Lord of the Rings. Her parents replaced that with a more age-appropriate paperback of The Hobbit. Later she discovered another book with an adorable bunny rabbit on the cover. Yes, that was Watership Down. She had to wait ten more years for romance novels, but once she discovered those she never looked back, and now combines the two for maximum fun.

Marian was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Dubai, studied in the United States (Georgia and Texas), worked in Iqaluit and lives in Toronto. For now. With five hot fantasy romances published by Samhain and Loose Id, she’s just getting started. She blogs at Flights of Fantasy, is on Twitter, has lots of excerpts on her website and still writes the occasional giant-robot-smutfic with no guilt whatsoever.

The Highest Tide

BLURB:

One touch, and the tide isn’t all that’s rising. When brothel health inspector Jason Remerley finds a uniformed woman waiting impatiently in the Velvet Court parlor, wanting to hire a man’s services, he’s struck by lightning. His intense, immediate attraction compels him to pretend his way into her arms.

Enough silver, and most men forget about Captain Lera Vanze’s half-burned face. She senses something off about the handsome, ill-dressed prostitute who sells himself so cheaply. But with his first touch, goose bumps turn to shivers of desire—right before the truth drives them in opposite directions.

Her fury is still simmering when they face each other in a more “official” capacity. She’s joined a warship to stop a terrorist only Jason can identify. Though trust is scarce, they’re swept away in a tidal wave of murderous plots and an explosive attraction that could leave them marooned in an emotional—and very real—minefield.

Warning: She knows how to wield her sword, he knows just how, when, and where to apply his…mind. Contains deception in a brothel, sex in a cave, a shark with a bad habit, and one very large wave.

Samhain Publishing | Amazon

Do you have any questions for Marian or tips to add to her list?

Thirteen Pieces of Advice for Aspiring Writers

Thursday Thirteen

I’ve been in a writing mood recently, which is great from my point of view. Today, I wrote “the end” on my current work in progress. Since my mind is in the groove, I thought I’d give some advice to aspiring authors.

1. Sit down and write every day. Make writing into a good habit.

2. Join a writing group, either a chapter or an online community for support.

3. Read and read widely. Analyze books that work for you and those that don’t. Use them as a learning tool.

4. Make a point to learn about websites and social media.

5. Enter writing competitions to help yourself improve and also to give yourself a writing deadline.

6. Research markets, agents and editors to familiarize yourself with what publishers and agents are looking for. This will help you narrow down who to submit your book to. If you’re thinking about self-publishing learn as much as you can about the process.

7. Keep a record of how much you can comfortably write each day. Knowledge of your possible output will help you once you’re published and facing deadlines.

8. Take online classes and attend conferences to learn as much as you can. I’ve been published for a while now, and I’m still learning!

9. When it comes to actual plotting, try all the different methods. Plotting, pansting and in between until you find a method that works for you.

10. There is no right or wrong way to write a book. There is only your way.

11. Find a critique partner/s to help critique your work and critique other writers’ work. This is a learning process too.

12. Once you’ve completed and polished your book send it off to your chosen publisher or agent. While you’re waiting, start work on your next book. If you’re self-publishing, complete the publishing process and start work on the next book.

13. Celebrate each success because writing is a difficult business and plain hard work.

Do you have any suggestions to add to my list?

Adventures in the Coffice

Coffee and Cake - dreamstimefree_216999

During the last few months I’ve been attempting to complete three different manuscripts. When I’m at home it’s easy to become distracted. Too easy! There’s all the housework, the Internet, my email, the puppy wanting to play and the phone, just to mention a few things likely to derail my writing day.

Since I know myself well, whenever I can, I leave the house and work in one of my favorite cafes. I’ve posted about the benefits of a coffice before (coffee shop/office), and for me writing in a cafe really works. For instance, I’ve completed the first draft of a 50K manuscript this month, writing the final words today.

But there is an interesting by-product to working in a cafe. I meet some entertaining people.

Most people are attracted by Rufus, my pink netbook. They stop to chat about the cute pink computer and want to know what it does and where they can get one.

At one particular cafe, a group of retired men and women meet after doing a twice-weekly walk. Usually, I get there before them and gradually become surrounded by their group who range in age from early 60s to 80s. They’ve started chatting to me and discovered I was a writer. I received the normal questions about research, along with a few smirks. I told one man that writers who write about murder don’t go around killing people therefore it wasn’t logical to assume I participated in all the kinky stuff he was smirking about. I heard him repeating my words verbatim to two elderly women about two weeks later. The lecture must have sunk in.

One of the elderly ladies in the group wanted to know if I’d speak at her book club. I asked what sort of books they read. “Oh, we’re very relaxed,” she said, waving an airy hand. “Each month we have a theme. This month our theme is color.”

“That’s a good idea,” I said.

“Yes, I’m reading 50 Shades of Grey,” she said. “The first bit was all right, but I’m not sure about all this bondage stuff and tying people up. How am I going to explain that to my book club?”

Yesterday, I was in my cafe around eight in the morning and was busy tapping out my words.

“Excuse me,” the man beside me said. “I’m sorry to bother you, but could you tell me a word to describe addiction.”

I must have looked a bit blank because he said, “This is my sentence.” And he read a sentence about how his gambling had overtaken him, causing him lots of problems.

“Oh,” I said, and I gave him a suggestion.

Wondering just what he was scribbling about in his notebook, I went back to my writing.

“Excuse me,” he said. “Could you spell…” He proceeded to ask me how to spell about half a dozen different words.  “Thank you,” he said politely once I’d finished.

I went back to my words.

“Excuse me,” he said.

I was starting to get the drift of what he was writing, and I was a bit nervous about what was coming next.

“I need a closing paragraph to read out to the judge. I’ve been very stupid,” he said. “I’ve done some bad things, and if this letter doesn’t work, I’ll have to go to jail.”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay, how about something like this? Your honor, I am truly sorry for my actions and have learned the error of my ways. I want to be a role model for my children. I’ve worked hard, gone to rehab and done everything required of me to turn my life around.”

He nodded, scribbled my suggestion down, adding a few words of his own. After a few minutes, he said, “Excuse me.”

I smiled politely and wondered what was coming next.

“Thank you for your help. I’m going home to shower and change now.”

“Okay, good luck,” I said.

He nodded and left. I watched him get in his car and drive away before going back to my words.

Life is never boring at the coffice!

What is the Big Deal With Pinterest?

“Oh, no!” I hear you say. “Not another form of social media to soak up my writing time.”

To be honest that’s what I thought when I first heard about Pinterest, and I turned my back and walked away.

Then, I started to see posts about Pinterest in my blog feeds. I read them. “Okay,” I thought. Maybe this Pinterest would be helpful with the new series I’m percolating in my head. I read the Pinterest posts again and requested an invitation.

Here are some of the articles I found useful:

Pinterest, oh, the potential by Nicole M Miller

A Few More Thoughts on Pinterest by Nicole M Miller

3 Ways Authors Can Use Pinterest Guilt Free by Caitlin Muir at Author Media

Pinterest: 13 Things Authors Should Know by Rachelle Gardner, agent

My experience with Pinterest:

1. The actual joining was very easy. During the sign up stage you tick the subjects you’re interested in and Pinterest automatically sets you up with people (friends) who have common interests.

2. I haven’t bothered searching out people to friend since my main purpose in joining Pinterest is to use it as a source of inspiration while I’m percolating new stories.

3. I set up boards for the heroines in my new series, and it has really helped me to think about facets of their characters.

4. I also set up a board for my blog, and it occurred to me that I could do a board for my latest release, Cat Burglar in Training. This is something of a work in progress, but I added a link for the board to my book page as an added extra for readers. Cat Burglar in Training Pinterest board. I included images of elements from the book ranging from ball gowns, cars and jewels to peanut butter. The purpose of these boards is to hopefully direct traffic.

5. I was so pleased with the Cat Burglar in Training board that I also started one for my Middlemarch Mates series.

Shelley Munro's Pinterest Boards

 

Here’s the link to all my boards if you’d like to check them out: Shelley Munro’s boards.

What are your thoughts about Pinterest? Have you succumbed? If so, how are you using Pinterest? Is it for writing purposes?

Strategies for Procrastinating Writers by Shelley Munro

I’m visiting Terry’s Place, the hangout of author Terry ODell today and talking about Strategies to beat Procrastination.

Change procrastination to productivity.

Does this sound like something you need? Yes? I have to admit there are times when I’m a champion procrastinator. Yes, it’s true. Sometimes attacking the ironing pile seems like way more fun than sitting down to write. On days like this it can take me hours to pound out my target number of words, and each one is dragged from me kicking and screaming. Read more at Terry’s Place.

The Dreaded Sagging Middle with Rachel Leigh

My guest today is Rachel Leigh. Rachel lives in the UK and has been married to her own sexy hero for thirteen years. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her reading, running after her two daughters or…playing with her husband.

Rachel is celebrating the release of her erotic romance, Coming Back, which is now available from the Wild Rose Press. Today she’s talking about a subject that I suspect more than a few of us worry about…a horrid sagging middle! Over to Rachel…

Coming BackI am nearing the halfway mark of my latest work in progress and while for some writers that will be something to celebrate, for me it is the opposite. Why? Because it means the dreaded ‘sagging middle’ is right around the corner. Thus bringing my writing/plotting/creativity to a grinding halt and causing me to bang my head up and down on my desk all day, every day until I see light at the end of a very dark tunnel.

Now most of you would have heard of this ‘sagging middle’ phrase and know what it means, others won’t. Let me explain.

It is the part of my story writing that I hate the most and occurs every single time, with every single book. I am a blend of two kinds of writer. I am half plotter and half pantser. I always have a two to three page synopsis written as well as character sketches for my hero and heroine before I start writing. However, from page one to the end I continually write the first draft without stopping or editing. The hard work comes in drafts two and three.

The problem is no matter how much detail I feel I’ve put into the synopsis, no matter how much I have written it with my ‘sagging middle’ weakness in mind, there it always is. Bam, like a grinning little cartoon devil poised to poke me in the behind with his shiny trident as soon as I am about halfway through.

So the question is, how do I deal with it? The only way I know how. Keep writing. I dread going to my desk for these days. Have zero enthusiasm or belief in myself or my work. I sit my backside in the chair anyway. These days writing is like pulling teeth but I force myself to write at least a thousand rubbish words a day. The beauty of it is when I feel the sun reappearing as I climb out of the middle and start heading for the home run, I read back what I wrote through those torturous days and I can be guaranteed to keep at least half of it. Result!

So what about you writers out there? Do you suffer with the same weakness as me? Yes? What’s your trick for beating this particular devil?

Or are you a reader? Have you noticed a ‘sagging middle’ in books? Maybe you see them more often than editors do, lol! I love to hear from you.

Rachel’s latest release is “Coming Back” available now from The Wild Rose Press. Here’s the blurb:

Kelly Hampton loved once…and lost. After two years of looking for Sean MacKenzie in other men–and failing miserably–she takes a vow of celibacy. No sex until she finds love. Then Sean strolls back into her bar, reigniting old flames. No one has come close to understanding or satisfying her like he did. Her body burns for the passion they once shared, but her heart still remembers the pain.

Sean escaped Jessop Hill and his father’s fists in the middle of the night without a word–even to his love, Kelly–to protect his battered mother, but he never forgot the explosively erotic relationship he left behind. Now his father is dead and Sean is back for the only woman he’s ever wanted. Their reunion is full of fire – but can sexual attraction and noble intentions overcome years of heartache or will Kelly walk away to protect her heart this time.

Purchase Coming Back

Rachel can be found here:

www.rachelleigh.co.uk
www.rachelleighromance.blogspot.com
www.twitter.com/rachelwriter

Ten Suggestions For Writing Well-Rounded Heroines

I’m visiting Savvy Authors today and talking about heroines. Here’s the link to my post, which contains suggestions for writing a good heroine.

I intend to try and catch up on some writing this weekend, and I’ll be watching the quarter-finals of the rugby World Cup on both Saturday and Sunday. The All Blacks are playing Argentina.

What are you doing this weekend?