Rita nominee

Conflict & Structure with Author Stephanie Rowe

>As a four-time RITA® Award nominee, a Golden Heart® Award winner and a nationally bestselling author of more than twenty books, Stephanie Rowe knows a thing or ten about writing.  So when I created interview questions for her appearance here, I thought craft would be a topic both writers and readers would enjoy.  I know I was intrigued with Stephanie’s answers and can’t wait for my copy of her July release, TOUCH IF YOU DARE, coming in the mail.  Yes, I won one early!  And you can too!

Comment on any of Stephanie’s answers or ask a question of your own and you’ll be entered to win one of the following 7 prizes! (U.S. & Canada Shipping Only)

  • A print copy of TOUCH IF YOU DARE
  • A print copy of KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK
    Stephanie’s prior release
  • 1 of 5 custom bookmarks

Welcome, Stephanie!

How long does it typically take you to write a book from concept to polish?

It totally depends on the book. Last year, it took me almost six months to TOUCH IF YOU DARE, my July release, and that didn’t even include pre-work or editing. This spring, I wrote my latest book in 17 days! That one just came alive for me, and it was the coolest experience. From idea to polished book, that one took me just under two months. I wish they were all that easy! Over the last five years or so, I’ve focused on educating myself about how other writers prepare for writing a book, and I’ve created an extensive system of 10 or 12 documents that I go through as I brainstorm. They are cumulative, building upon each other as I learn more about the story and the characters and can dig deeper into everything. By the time I finish, I’ve got a 10 or 12 page very tight document that tells me exactly what I need to know to write, and not a bit more. It’s been working really well for me and I continue to refine it as I learn more and evolve as a writer.

You write in several romance genres: paranormal, suspense and contemporary.  What do you love to write the most?

I really enjoy the freedom of writing in different areas. Each one taps into different strengths and has different challenges and opportunities, so writing in the different genres helps to keep me fresh and it keeps me growing as a writer. I am usually most interested in whatever genre my current work-in-progress is in, which is good, since that’s what I’m immersed in all day!

What is your philosophy on conflict in a novel?

There are two kinds of conflict: external (e.g. bad guy) and internal (the character’s personal baggage). I believe that the most powerful conflict has to come from the soul, and it has to be the kind of conflict that can’t be overcome by a simple conversation or illuminating moment. A book without a powerful internal conflict will often lack that compelling element, while a book without a powerful external conflict can often be riveting. So, when I write, I always focus on the internal conflict and I allow the external conflict to arise from that.


How do you go about building your novel’s conflict?

My first step is to get to know my two main characters in their souls. I don’t bother with their favorite kind of ice cream. I need to sink myself deep into the emotions that drive them, and peel back the layers to expose their greatest fears, their greatest hopes, and their greatest joys. I find out what drives them, and I find out what terrifies them beyond belief, and then I create a story that forces them to defeat their innermost terrors in order to get that which their soul burns for. Sometimes those obstacles can be external, tapping into their inner traumas, and sometimes those obstacles can be internal, but every obstacle and every event and every relationship stems from that darkest place in their soul that is yearning for hope, for love and for light.

Do you plan out the structure of your novel? What model do you use?

From a structural perspective, I have created my own model based primarily on Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT screenwriter’s book, and the hero’s journey as described in Mary Buckham’s brilliant lecture, Plotting with Mythic Structure (I highly recommend going to her website, www.marybuckham.com, and buying her lectures. They are absolutely invaluable). I’ve taken those plot points and created a chart in word that I fill in with assorted ideas for events. I’ve created assorted brainstorming documents that I use, and as I proceed through them and come up with plot points, I write them into my chart. By the time I finish going through my brainstorming documents, my chart is usually rich with events to challenge my characters. I usually don’t have to do any more work, and I’m ready to write at that point.


Great tips for writers! Fun insight for readers! Hope you have enjoyed.

Comment on any of Stephanie’s answers or ask a question of your own and you’ll be entered to win one of the following 7 prizes! (U.S. & Canada Shipping Only)

* Must leave a contact email *

  • A print copy of TOUCH IF YOU DARE
  • A print copy of KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK
    Stephanie’s prior release
  • 1 of 5 custom bookmarks

>Conflict & Structure with Author Stephanie Rowe

>As a four-time RITA® Award nominee, a Golden Heart® Award winner and a nationally bestselling author of more than twenty books, Stephanie Rowe knows a thing or ten about writing.  So when I created interview questions for her appearance here, I thought craft would be a topic both writers and readers would enjoy.  I know I was intrigued with Stephanie’s answers and can’t wait for my copy of her July release, TOUCH IF YOU DARE, coming in the mail.  Yes, I won one early!  And you can too!

Comment on any of Stephanie’s answers or ask a question of your own and you’ll be entered to win one of the following 7 prizes! (U.S. & Canada Shipping Only)

  • A print copy of TOUCH IF YOU DARE
  • A print copy of KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK
    Stephanie’s prior release
  • 1 of 5 custom bookmarks

Welcome, Stephanie!

How long does it typically take you to write a book from concept to polish?

It totally depends on the book. Last year, it took me almost six months to TOUCH IF YOU DARE, my July release, and that didn’t even include pre-work or editing. This spring, I wrote my latest book in 17 days! That one just came alive for me, and it was the coolest experience. From idea to polished book, that one took me just under two months. I wish they were all that easy! Over the last five years or so, I’ve focused on educating myself about how other writers prepare for writing a book, and I’ve created an extensive system of 10 or 12 documents that I go through as I brainstorm. They are cumulative, building upon each other as I learn more about the story and the characters and can dig deeper into everything. By the time I finish, I’ve got a 10 or 12 page very tight document that tells me exactly what I need to know to write, and not a bit more. It’s been working really well for me and I continue to refine it as I learn more and evolve as a writer.

You write in several romance genres: paranormal, suspense and contemporary.  What do you love to write the most?

I really enjoy the freedom of writing in different areas. Each one taps into different strengths and has different challenges and opportunities, so writing in the different genres helps to keep me fresh and it keeps me growing as a writer. I am usually most interested in whatever genre my current work-in-progress is in, which is good, since that’s what I’m immersed in all day!

What is your philosophy on conflict in a novel?

There are two kinds of conflict: external (e.g. bad guy) and internal (the character’s personal baggage). I believe that the most powerful conflict has to come from the soul, and it has to be the kind of conflict that can’t be overcome by a simple conversation or illuminating moment. A book without a powerful internal conflict will often lack that compelling element, while a book without a powerful external conflict can often be riveting. So, when I write, I always focus on the internal conflict and I allow the external conflict to arise from that.


How do you go about building your novel’s conflict?

My first step is to get to know my two main characters in their souls. I don’t bother with their favorite kind of ice cream. I need to sink myself deep into the emotions that drive them, and peel back the layers to expose their greatest fears, their greatest hopes, and their greatest joys. I find out what drives them, and I find out what terrifies them beyond belief, and then I create a story that forces them to defeat their innermost terrors in order to get that which their soul burns for. Sometimes those obstacles can be external, tapping into their inner traumas, and sometimes those obstacles can be internal, but every obstacle and every event and every relationship stems from that darkest place in their soul that is yearning for hope, for love and for light.

Do you plan out the structure of your novel? What model do you use?

From a structural perspective, I have created my own model based primarily on Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT screenwriter’s book, and the hero’s journey as described in Mary Buckham’s brilliant lecture, Plotting with Mythic Structure (I highly recommend going to her website, www.marybuckham.com, and buying her lectures. They are absolutely invaluable). I’ve taken those plot points and created a chart in word that I fill in with assorted ideas for events. I’ve created assorted brainstorming documents that I use, and as I proceed through them and come up with plot points, I write them into my chart. By the time I finish going through my brainstorming documents, my chart is usually rich with events to challenge my characters. I usually don’t have to do any more work, and I’m ready to write at that point.


Great tips for writers! Fun insight for readers! Hope you have enjoyed.

Comment on any of Stephanie’s answers or ask a question of your own and you’ll be entered to win one of the following 7 prizes! (U.S. & Canada Shipping Only)

* Must leave a contact email *

  • A print copy of TOUCH IF YOU DARE
  • A print copy of KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK
    Stephanie’s prior release
  • 1 of 5 custom bookmarks

New Year’s Giveaway: Day 15, Elisabeth Naughton

>How do you describe someone who is like the other half of your brain? 

Elisabeth Naughton and I have been critique partners for about five years now.  We met through another writer who we also critiqued with.  Elisabeth and I have both grown and changed over those years, yet we’ve grown closer and changed in similar ways. 

Aside from writing in similar genres, we share common values such as work-ethic, professionalism, commitment and karma.  Outside publishing we share a love of family, dedication to our long-time marriages, support of true friendship and acceptance of individual quirks and styles — even though my plotting and planning makes her want to pull out her eyelashes and her writing into the mist makes me want to jump off a cliff.

Elisabeth has an amazing ability to understand story structure and visualize the big picture, something I struggle with even after taking courses, reading books and applying it in my work.  She has mentored me along the path of writing a series and all that entails. 

In fact, it was Elisabeth who emailed me during her Hawaiian vacation because she had an epiphany–that FEVER, my debut novel with Kensington, was perfect for both a series of connected books and a paranormal element.  She was convinced that the only reason it hadn’t sold was because the RS market had slowed.

Because I trust her opinion and her vision of my work (and because I have learned she’s often right about most things) I rewrote FEVER, was subsequently offered representation by two well-known agents, and thereafter offered a two book contract.

I have myriad of reasons to be grateful for Elisabeth’s role in my life as mentor and friend, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to share her fabulous work with all of you! 

She has an amazing voice, sarcastic wit that never fails to have me laughing out loud and kick-ass characters who take no shit.  Her stories move fast, twist, turn and flip upside down.  So if you’re looking for an author who delivers on the promises they offer at the beginning of a novel (as described in my recent blog post at Brava Authors) Elisabeth is that author.

Up For Win Today:

2 copies of STOLEN FURY, the first in her STOLEN trilogy and double RWA RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense.

3 copies of MARKED, the first book in her ETERNAL GUARDIAN series.

3 copies of ENTWINED, the second book in her ETERNAL GUARDIAN series.

To enter:
Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Book Summary:
STOLEN FURY:
To unearth a centuries-old secret, an archaeologist must team up with the rakish thief who’s stolen both an ancient relic and her heart…

Oh, is he handsome. And charming. And sexy as all get out. Dr. Lisa Maxwell isn’t the type to go home with a guy she barely knows. But, hey, this is Italy and the red-blooded Rafe Sullivan seems much more enticing than cataloging a bunch of dusty artifacts.

After being fully seduced, Lisa wakes to an empty bed and, worse yet, an empty safe. She’s staked her career as an archaeologist on collecting the three Furies, a priceless set of ancient Greek reliefs. Now the one she had is gone. But Lisa won’t just get mad. She’ll get even.

She tracks Rafe to Florida, and finds the sparks between them blaze hotter than the Miami sun. He may still have her relic, but he’ll never find all three without her. And they’re not the only ones on the hunt. To beat the other treasure seekers, they’ll have to partner up—because suddenly Lisa and Rafe are in a race just to stay alive.

Read an excerpt: HERE.

MARKED:
THERON – Dark haired, duty bound and deceptively deadly. He’s the leader of the Argonauts, an elite group of guardians that defends the immortal realm from threats of the Underworld.

From the moment he walked into the club, Casey knew this guy was different. Men like that just didn’t exist in real life—silky shoulder-length hair, chest impossibly broad, and a predatory manner that just screamed dark and dangerous. He was looking for something. Her.

She was the one. She had the mark. Casey had to die so his kind could live, and it was Theron’s duty to bring her in. But even as a 200-year-old descendent of Hercules, he wasn’t strong enough to resist the pull in her fathomless eyes, to tear himself away from the heat of her body.

As war with the Underworld nears, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Read and excerpt: HERE.

ENTWINED:
ZANDER — The most feared of all the Eternal Guardians. It’s rumored he can’t be killed, and he always fights like he has nothing to lose. But as a descendant of the famed hero Achilles, he’s got to have a vulnerability… somewhere.

Forces of daemons are gathering and have broken through the barriers of the Underworld. Now more than ever the Eternal Guardians are needed to protect both their own realm and the humans’. Zander can’t afford to think about what might have been with the bewitching physician he once regarded as his soul mate. But with eternity stretching before him, he also can’t fathom spending his life without the one woman who makes him feel most alive. Perhaps he’s found his weakness, after all…

Read an excerpt: HERE.

Upcoming Releases:

  • TEMPTED, the highly anticipated release of Elisabeth’s third book in the ETERNAL GUARDIAN series,  October, 2011.
  • BODYGUARDS IN BED, an anthology of romantic suspense with a bodyguard theme, co-authors Lucy Monroe and Jamie Denton.  May, 2011.
  • ENRAPTURED, the forth book in the ETERNAL GUARDIAN series, April 2012.

Works In Progress:

  • ENRAPTURED, the forth book in the ETERNAL GUARDIAN series, April 2012.

Contact Info:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Email

Have a great weekend! Check back next week for more awesome giveaways!

>New Year’s Giveaway: Day 15, Elisabeth Naughton

>How do you describe someone who is like the other half of your brain? 

Elisabeth Naughton and I have been critique partners for about five years now.  We met through another writer who we also critiqued with.  Elisabeth and I have both grown and changed over those years, yet we’ve grown closer and changed in similar ways. 

Aside from writing in similar genres, we share common values such as work-ethic, professionalism, commitment and karma.  Outside publishing we share a love of family, dedication to our long-time marriages, support of true friendship and acceptance of individual quirks and styles — even though my plotting and planning makes her want to pull out her eyelashes and her writing into the mist makes me want to jump off a cliff.

Elisabeth has an amazing ability to understand story structure and visualize the big picture, something I struggle with even after taking courses, reading books and applying it in my work.  She has mentored me along the path of writing a series and all that entails. 

In fact, it was Elisabeth who emailed me during her Hawaiian vacation because she had an epiphany–that FEVER, my debut novel with Kensington, was perfect for both a series of connected books and a paranormal element.  She was convinced that the only reason it hadn’t sold was because the RS market had slowed.

Because I trust her opinion and her vision of my work (and because I have learned she’s often right about most things) I rewrote FEVER, was subsequently offered representation by two well-known agents, and thereafter offered a two book contract.

I have myriad of reasons to be grateful for Elisabeth’s role in my life as mentor and friend, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to share her fabulous work with all of you! 

She has an amazing voice, sarcastic wit that never fails to have me laughing out loud and kick-ass characters who take no shit.  Her stories move fast, twist, turn and flip upside down.  So if you’re looking for an author who delivers on the promises they offer at the beginning of a novel (as described in my recent blog post at Brava Authors) Elisabeth is that author.

Up For Win Today:

2 copies of STOLEN FURY, the first in her STOLEN trilogy and double RWA RITA nominee for Best First Book and Best Romantic Suspense.

3 copies of MARKED, the first book in her ETERNAL GUARDIAN series.

3 copies of ENTWINED, the second book in her ETERNAL GUARDIAN series.

To enter:
Follow me on Twitter: @joanswan & send me a tweet with #newyear in the message. (Tweet Here)

Book Summary:
STOLEN FURY:
To unearth a centuries-old secret, an archaeologist must team up with the rakish thief who’s stolen both an ancient relic and her heart…

Oh, is he handsome. And charming. And sexy as all get out. Dr. Lisa Maxwell isn’t the type to go home with a guy she barely knows. But, hey, this is Italy and the red-blooded Rafe Sullivan seems much more enticing than cataloging a bunch of dusty artifacts.

After being fully seduced, Lisa wakes to an empty bed and, worse yet, an empty safe. She’s staked her career as an archaeologist on collecting the three Furies, a priceless set of ancient Greek reliefs. Now the one she had is gone. But Lisa won’t just get mad. She’ll get even.

She tracks Rafe to Florida, and finds the sparks between them blaze hotter than the Miami sun. He may still have her relic, but he’ll never find all three without her. And they’re not the only ones on the hunt. To beat the other treasure seekers, they’ll have to partner up—because suddenly Lisa and Rafe are in a race just to stay alive.

Read an excerpt: HERE.

MARKED:
THERON – Dark haired, duty bound and deceptively deadly. He’s the leader of the Argonauts, an elite group of guardians that defends the immortal realm from threats of the Underworld.

From the moment he walked into the club, Casey knew this guy was different. Men like that just didn’t exist in real life—silky shoulder-length hair, chest impossibly broad, and a predatory manner that just screamed dark and dangerous. He was looking for something. Her.

She was the one. She had the mark. Casey had to die so his kind could live, and it was Theron’s duty to bring her in. But even as a 200-year-old descendent of Hercules, he wasn’t strong enough to resist the pull in her fathomless eyes, to tear himself away from the heat of her body.

As war with the Underworld nears, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Read and excerpt: HERE.

ENTWINED:
ZANDER — The most feared of all the Eternal Guardians. It’s rumored he can’t be killed, and he always fights like he has nothing to lose. But as a descendant of the famed hero Achilles, he’s got to have a vulnerability… somewhere.

Forces of daemons are gathering and have broken through the barriers of the Underworld. Now more than ever the Eternal Guardians are needed to protect both their own realm and the humans’. Zander can’t afford to think about what might have been with the bewitching physician he once regarded as his soul mate. But with eternity stretching before him, he also can’t fathom spending his life without the one woman who makes him feel most alive. Perhaps he’s found his weakness, after all…

Read an excerpt: HERE.

Upcoming Releases:

  • TEMPTED, the highly anticipated release of Elisabeth’s third book in the ETERNAL GUARDIAN series,  October, 2011.
  • BODYGUARDS IN BED, an anthology of romantic suspense with a bodyguard theme, co-authors Lucy Monroe and Jamie Denton.  May, 2011.
  • ENRAPTURED, the forth book in the ETERNAL GUARDIAN series, April 2012.

Works In Progress:

  • ENRAPTURED, the forth book in the ETERNAL GUARDIAN series, April 2012.

Contact Info:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Email

Have a great weekend! Check back next week for more awesome giveaways!