From the moment I placed the pink wig on my head, I became Liz Everly. This was a good thing because there were many things that could have gone very wrong that day. It was the first Love Fest at the Virginia Festival of the Book. I mean, think about that. Just sit with that awhile. So the pink wig really helped. If I bombed it was HER, the lady in the pink wig, not ME, right?
I was on a panel on Saturday with four other writers. Not just any writers, All of them “bestsellers,” except, of course, for me. Did I worry about that? Honestly, I fretted about it for awhile. But then I thought about it from the perspective of audience members and felt better. Because here is the thing: we all need to start somewhere. This is my start as Liz start, right? I think it gave the audience members another perspective.
I’ve written here before about how I write traditional mysteries. I love writing them and don’t ever want to give that up. But I also love to write my spicy culinary romances. So I do both and am grateful that my publisher allows, encourages, and embraces that.
The panel went very well. It was a romantic suspense panel called Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang. Each of us write books with way different layers and levels of suspense. I learned a lot by listening to Mary Burton, Joshilyn Jackson, and Joyce Lamb, and Lydia Netzer’s questions were leading us through the discussion. Since this is a new-to-me genre as a writer, my editor helps me with the romance and suspense balance. In CRAVINGS, the second book in my series, the big editorial comment was “more sex and food, less suspense.” I have to admit that the suspense of this book really pulled me in and I probably went overboard with it. My editor was right. I’m writing a culinary romance with a dash of suspense, not the other way around.
Everybody on the panel brought a different level of suspense and romance to the table, so it was a fascinating discussion. With such an eclectic mix of writers, it could have gone very badly. But instead, I think we rose to the challenge and gave the audience what they wanted. A big part of the reason this panel worked so well was the generosity of the other writers on the panel. I’ve been on panels before where egos and sniping take over. It must be noted that this kind of thing did not happen AT ALL during the Love Fest.
So this was my first public appearance as Liz. Among other reasons, I wore the pink wig to help place a definite line in the sand between my other public self and Liz. This was important to me because I was appearing elsewhere at the festival as my other personae. I didn’t really do it as a disguise, but it seemed to work as such because many people (who knew me) were asking Madeline Iva who Liz was.
And later Madeline asked me if the wig helped me in some way feel more comfortable. And I think it did. It helped me shed some of the trappings of my other personae and feel a bit more free to be myself. Isn’t that odd? Wearing a pink wig and feeling more authentic?
You may not know her name, but you know the look on her face means trouble. She’s got a shape that lures your gaze to fondle it, but her mind’s always working the angles. Someone’s going to end up on top — and it’s not you.
After looking at rogues last week, I figured it was time to look at their female counterparts: the femmes fatales!
They’re untrustworthy, conniving, double crossing and undeniably sexy. Whether it’s noir goddess Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity or The Strange Love of Martha Ivers or bad girl-who-wants-to-be-good Gloria Graham, they have incredible sex appeal. When she walks into the room, the femme fatale draws every eye like a slinky magnet. Her dress might be low cut and it’s probably tight as a second skin, and she’s bound to be tottering on stilettos with a dainty ankle chain just to make sure you’re looking at her legs — but it’s her expression that holds you. She knows too much and what she knows isn’t good for you.
But you can’t resist!
Can we imagine a romance novel with a femme fatale heroine? Or are they destined only for dark crime stories where everything goes wrong? It seems somewhat difficult to imagine, but surely someone must rise to the challenge!
Maybe she could be won over and leave behind her vampish ways. But if it were told from the heroine’s point of view, could the reader identify with the bad girl?
Do you have to be a bad girl to enjoy the femme fatale? I have written a good number of them in my crime stories but I have to admit most of my romances feature good women who mean well and only want the best for their paramours, too.
Well, maybe the Man City gals have a touch of the femme fatale: Shai and Lizzie scheme a little bit, but for a good cause: a ménage-à-trois! Surely they can be forgiven a bit of intrigue — after all, everyone shared the prize in the end.
I just finished reading a fantastic culinary romance, SCRUMPTIOUS by Amanda Usen.
The plot was intriguing, the sex was hawt, the romance interesting, and the food…well, she knows her food. Since I know the restaurant business so well, the fact that the story was set in a restaurant could have been bad news for me. But happily it was not. I could tell that Amanda knew her stuff and sure enough, I looked her up online and she had been to culinary school and is even married to a chef. How about that? This is the first in her series, and I’ll be checking out the next one. And the next.
Since my books are labeled culinary romances, I thought I’d check out some of the other authors who are writing them and see what their approach is. Some of them are:
Some culinary romances are set in restaurants, some in bakeries, some in homes, and some revolve around chefs. Food is a strong element along with the romance. I think SAFFRON NIGHTS maybe the only one to focus on a food writer and her travels. I’m not sure about this. But do stay tuned.
Speaking of which, I’m getting ready to launch my own culinary romance on Wednesday with a Super Blast Book Tour. There will be excerpts of SAFFRON NIGHTS on 45 blogs and I’ll be offering a prize to one commenter–cedar and saffron bath gel and soap. Organic and homemade.
Here are the blogs that will be participating tomorrow. Check them out, leave a comment and who knows you might win.
Wicked Readings by Tawania
It’s Raining Books
Welcome to My World of Dreams
Wickedly Wanton Tales
Christine Young Romance Writer
The Darker Side of Romance
Black Velvet Seductions Readers Blog
Books to Light Your Fire
Read Your Writes Book Reviews
Pink Fluffy Hearts: Diary of a Coffee Addict
Of Kink, Romance, and Writing
Wake Up Your Wild Side
Dawn’s Reading Nook Blog
My Odd Little World
Books and Other Spells
Long and Short Reviews
Jersey Girl Sizzling Book Reviews
United By Books
Priestess of Hearts
All I Want and More
Sexy Adventures, Passionate Tales
Janna Shay’s Fair Play
Let’s Get BOOKED!
Melissa Keir- Sexy Between the Covers
Wendi Zwaduk – Romance to Make Your Heart Race
Krystal Shannan – Where Love & Destiny Collide
Bound By Passion
Musings of Mistress of the Dark Path
Author Jinni James
Let Romance Light Your Way
Desiree Holt Tells All
Author Raine Delight’s Blog
Fantasy Powered by Love
So I have this good friend and neighbor who is a big Nora Roberts fan. I tried reading some of her romances and, well, what I read (so far) were okay. But I LOVE Nora’s JD Robb books. If I had the time to analyze Nora/JD’s writing, it would be a fun project. Just on the face of it, the books seem like they are written by two different writers and that, my friend, takes talent.
Nora is once of the romance writers I admire most. She has an incredible work ethic and has given back to her community in many ways. One thing she did was put an economic spark back into Boonsboro, Md. when she renovated an old building and made it into an Inn. Of course, she has written about renovating the beloved building and now fans can stay there and experience, even touch, some of the things she writes about it her books—like the iron work and the cashmere throws in each room—a just like in her books. She’s written a whole series, of course, based on the Inn BoonsBoro.
My friend was impressed with the devotion to detail throughout the Inn. If you’d like to read more about it, check this out. She stayed in the Penthouse room, which had huge bathtub and shower, along with a heated toilet that’s lid opens for you on approach. Talk about being pampered.
How cool for my friend and her husband to experience all of this that she’d read about for years. And how cool that Nora Roberts is offering this. Cool and smart.
I started to think, as a writer, what part of my work would I like to offer readers to touch, feel, maybe taste? In SAFFRON NIGHTS, Maeve visits a shop in Hong Kong “Suki’s Little Shop of Aphrodisiacs,” where she purchases potent ginseng, among other things. I think that might be more fun than an Inn—though maybe the most fun would be an inn with its own shop of aphrodisiacs?
For CRAVINGS, I imagine a huge chocolate shop with exotic spices and fruits thrown in for good measure. And in the back room? Some light BDSM play things, like collars, cuffs, and leather of all sorts.
Writers have you ever imagined your books, or parts of your books like this? Readers, what do you think? Would you come to my little shops? Hehehe.
So exciting to see my book cover! Here it is! Don’t you just love the font? And look at the juicy strawberry and dripping chocolate sauce. YUM!
Seeing the book cover of my current work is always an exciting moment for me. I never get tired of that first glimpse.
Shortly after I was given a peek of my cover, I received the copy edits for the manuscript. I’m working diligently on those now, which is why this blog post is going to be very short. The copy edits are not too bad. But I am reading the book through one more time to make sure I’ve done the best I can.
As for CRAVINGS, the second book in my culinary romance series, I am about half way through the first draft of it. I can see where it’s going, which is more than I can say for most of the books I’ve written at half way through the first draft. I hope that means it will be an even better read for you.
SAFFRON NIGHTS is scheduled for a February release, which is the perfect month for romance, heh? Stay tuned!
So in my other life I am a cozy mystery author, among other things. My definition of cozy is a mystery solved by an amateur sleuth, with the plot having very little in the way of sex, violence, or using curse words. For potty-mouthed little ol’ me, this can be a challenge.
But this blog isn’t about cozy mysteries and this post isn’t about my love of cussing. What it’s about is romance. In this case, the lack of it, even when there’s supposed to be one. One of the books I’ve recently read has a long-term boyfriend-girlfriend relationship and it’s just well, really boring. There’s nothing else I can say about it. You don’t have to go “all the way” to give me a good romance. Seriously. A tingle here or there. A hot breath against the neck. A flick of the tongue. C’mon people!
I’m all for NOT having a romance in a mystery if you’re not going to give me just a little to chew on, so to speak. Who says there needs to be one at all? Of course it’s up to the author (and their editor) how much sizzle to put in, and cozy mystery readers don’t want Fifty Shades of Grey. Or at least that’s what I’m told. (Although someone is reading that book out there and I’m guessing some cozy readers must crossover.) I don’t expect hot sex in a cozy, either. But what I do expect is well-rounded characters and for me sex and love is all a part of it. I mean who among us hasn’t felt a tingle from time to time? Been in love? Lusted after someone?
That’s why writing and reading erotic romance for me is such a great outlet. And what’s even better for me is the whole romantic suspense sub-genre, which really blends it all together so well. Add a little erotic tension and I’m a goner.
Two of my favorite romantic suspense authors are JoAnn Ross and Sandra Brown. Both of them pen books that could be used in a class to show exactly what good romantic suspense is. Sandra Brown’s THE WITNESS was an incredible study on the whole captive-romance thing. I literally could NOT put it down.Ya coulda cut the tension with a butter knife. So thick. And Joanna’s Ross’s BLAZE was one of the best romantic suspense novels I’ve ever read. The pacing was perfect, the heat between the two main characters was amazing, and the plot was riveting.
So what do good cozy mysteries and romantic suspense have in common? On the face of it not much really. But it’s all about balance and tone isn’t it? Both Sandra Brown and JoAnn Ross have it mastered on the romantic suspense side of things. That delicate balance between danger and romance. In between bombs and fires, we have down times. And during those times, of course, hawt tension leading to great sex scenes.
I am not trying to diss cozy mysteries. I love them, when they are done well, which is why I write them. A few of the cozy writers that I think handle romance well are Elizabeth Peters, Donna Andrews, Lois Winston, and Kylie Logan. I just wonder if some editors and writers out there need to get with the program and allow these characters to have a wee bit more romance in their lives.
What do you think? How many genres do you read?