Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Romantic Suspense Royalty: Roxanne St. Claire

They say romantic suspense isn't selling. They say romance publishing today is all about paranormals and steampunk and historicals and the mighty resurge and reverb of young adult fiction. "They" like to say a lot.

Try saying any of that to Roxanne St Claire. No really, try it. I dare you.

Courtesy of Amazon.com
I'm a huge fan of Roxanne St. Claire. If I was a woman who squeed, I'd be a squeeing fan grrl. I dove into The Bullet Catchers series like I was breaking a fast and sped read through her backlist like it was require reading for RWA (it might be). Also, she has the best titles. A three book series entitled, respectively, First You Run, Then You Hide, Now You Die

Total title win.

Roxanne's books are exciting, engrossing, and seriously hot. Her characters meld larger than life experiences with totally down to earth desires. And hold onto your arm chair because the pace is quick and the plots thick. I always read her books in one swift sitting, unable to put them down until I hit the last page. Best, she inspires me as a writer challenging me with every new novel to be a better one.

I mean, the woman originated her new series in Boston and this Jersey girl still thinks she rocks. Trust me, that's big.

Courtesy of Amazon.com
Today is debut day for Roxanne St Claire's new romantic suspense novel Shiver of Fear. This book #2 in her Guardian Angelinos series following last fall's Edge of Sight, not to be confused with the 80s soap opera of the same name that I loved unreasonably in my early adolescent youth (Preacher. Sigh.). Face of Danger, the third installment, will join the class on April 26th

Look! Cover flats! Ooooh.

But who better to sum up the Angelino's mission statement than Roxanne herself? From her web site:

The Guardian Angelinos are a Boston-based family that flies under the radar of the law to solve crimes, save lives, protect the innocent, and take down the guilty. This team of rule-breaking, risk-taking, wave-making siblings and cousins aren't afraid to get into the face of criminals as one of the toughest, grittiest security and PI firms around. This close-knit clan of protection, investigation, law enforcement, technology, weaponry, and legal experts all have one simple creed: The good guys win and the bad guys get the holy hell kicked out of them.

Courtesy of Amazon.com
You're going to love these books. I kid you not. I'm even willing to put my money to my mouth to prove it. Methaphorically speaking.

Leave a comment and tell me what you think of romantic suspense novels. Love 'em? Meh 'em? Give me some good reasons. If you're a fan, name your favorite authors that we may not squee with you. I'm so sure you're going to love Roxanne St. Claire's Guardian Angelinos, I'm going to start one randomly chosen commenter off with a free copy of Edge of Sight, Guardian Angelino Book #1, newly nominated for a RITA award in the romantic suspense category (for the uninformed, that's the Romancelandia Oscars so it's a big 'effen deal.)

I'm a proud writer of romantic suspense fiction and follow haltingly in the assured footsteps of kick-ass writers like Roxanne St. Claire who continue to weave intricate, engrossing, sizzling hot stories of men and women falling in love on the cusp of danger. Rock on Rocki.

Leave a note. Win a book. It's that easy.

Happy Reading!

BONUS: Do not miss the Edge of Sight prequel to see how it all really began, a free download on Roxanne St. Claire's web site. Why yes, I will link to it again. 

Disclaimer: I was not at all given any incentives to tout these books. But if you want to send an Angelino after me, I wouldn't say no to Marc Rossi...no matter what he asked me to do.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Combating Doubt

Writers are their own worst critics. It's no good, it'll never work, no one will want to read it, and no one will ever want to publish it. And the mother of them all: I'm a failure.

These are merely variations of the same theme: Doubt.

Doubt nests in us all (unless you're a narcissistic sociopath). It lurks deep in the belly, like bad chili, waiting for its moment to strike. According to the old axiom, it takes 10 nice comments to make up for one mean one. Doubt never bothers waiting for the one. It takes advantage of the slightest opportunity, striking hard and fast to zero in on your deepest fears and make them, even if only for a moment, truth.

Doubt is poisonous to those of us who create. Whether it's done with pen or keyboard, paint or clay, music or dance, the very act of creating embeds pieces of the creator's soul in every line, every stroke, every step, every note.

And doubt? It's a soul killer.

On a daily basis, the writing Twitter world explodes with links; links to blogs on writing and craft, to new release announcements, to on-the-spot alerts about the publishing industry – and to reviews. A couple of weeks ago, one of these links lead me to a category romance review. As I read through the short piece, horror and doubt followed every advancing word. Several of the book's plot points were eerily similar to mine. For a moment, I even had the crazy fear that I'd been scooped.

No, I don't recall the title. I deliberately did not pursue the book. The last thing I need is to have someone else's words and world in my head. But the damage had been done. I was suffused with doubt. My soul despaired.

And then I looked again. The review wasn't favorable; neither the author nor her plot or characters escaped unscathed. This brought me no small relief; to be honest, it stuck my nose up in the air more than a little – no one could ever call my heroine weak or whiny. (Yea, I am a shallow woman.)

In truth, the plot wasn't all that similar after all. OK, it was a little too close for comfort, but with further review, the differences were glaring, certainly enough to calm if not exorcize my doubts. All right, they were still there and they were raging. Self medication of the wine variety helped in the short term.

For the long term, I remind myself of 5 things to combat the soul killer:
  1. No story is original. Not even Harry Potter. Themes, character archetypes, and plots reverberate and repeat throughout the history of storytelling. We're all working off the same template. Some of us are simply doing it better.
  2. Originality manifests in execution. No one can tell your story except you. What you bring to these established tropes is unique. That's what makes it special.
  3. Rejection comes like the dawn. We all fail. It ain't pretty and it's never sexy, but it happens to all of us – even New York Times bestsellers. The trick is in picking yourself up after a failure and journeying on.
  4. Never, ever quit. Envision typing The End. Write your award acceptance speech (I've already altered the Oscar speech I wrote when I was 12 for the RITA award that awaits me). Picture your book on the shelf. Do whatever it takes to finish the book.
  5. You are not alone. When in doubt, turn to your greatest cheerleaders – your critique partners. In my moments of doubt, mine continue to reach out with support and praise, though lately I fear I've made them spend more time talking me off the ledge than reviewing pages. Critique partners make all the difference in the world. Don't have one? Reach out to your local writing group and get one. In the meantime, call your best friend. They are your first and best cheerleaders. I know this from experience.
Have a method for combating doubt? Share it in the comments and on Sunday, I'll pick a random commenter to receive a free category romance compliments of my basket of win from the Liberty States Fiction Writers Create Something Magical Conference. With any luck, this will assuage some of my guilt for reveling in that poor author's bad review.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Television Tuesday: Southland – Show Don’t Tell

One piece of writing advice repeated over and over in every medium (novel, T.V., film, etc) is the axiom "show, don't tell". Of course, for most writers (and by that, I mean me) this is one of the hardest guidelines to follow. I talk a lot and if you've been reading this blog for even the smallest amount of time, you already know that the tendency for my mouth to overfloweth translates epically to the page.

This means I'm always on the lookout for examples of "show, don't tell" that I can emulate as a template till I get my groove on. Now, despite my efforts to curtail, lately I've been watching a lot of T.V. You may have noticed as the only blog posts for a month have been Television Tuesday posts. No? Skipped those pearls of wisdom? Huh. Your love is fickle and fleeting, that's all I've got to say.

Back on topic. Where was I? Oh, right, show, don't tell.

Image from www.IMDB.com
I've been watching Southland on TNT. It's a good cop show, though I prefer the ride-along sequences over the detective scenes, especially now that they killed off Kevin Alejandro so True Blood can suck him dry (you know that'll happen eventually; Lafayette is doomed to be alone forever).

At the head of the cast are Michael Cudlitz and Ben MacKenzie as a bitter/experienced trainer and his newest rookie trainee, respectively. You may recognize Cudlitz from his superior performance as Bull Randleman in the Band of Brothers (his spotlight episode is one I never miss when Spike or The History Channel run the full series on holidays). He's also been on just about any show you can think of (no, not Masterpiece Theatre) and he's always great.

But I want to talk about Ben MacKenzie. I've never seen The OC, so I have no preconceived notions about him as an actor or character. I will say that he has played the crap out of rookie cop Ben Sherman, son of a high-powered Hollywood attorney whose scumbag client once broke into their house, raping the mom and beating up young Ben, which is, naturally, Ben's raison d'etre for becoming a cop.

Which brings us to Southland Season 3 Episode 3: Discretion