Archive for the 'Writing Life' Category

So, this morning was pretty awesome. 

I knew it was Golden Heart and RITA “call day,” and I was very glad that I’d already made plans to spend the morning volunteering in my dareling’s classroom. You see, this is my 3rd or 4th year watching “call day” closely — but the first time I’ve ever been entered in either of the contests.  For those who may not know, the RITA and Golden Heart are nationwide contests sponsored by Romance Writers of America.  The RITA is for published romance novels, and the Golden Heart is for unpublished manuscripts. Entries happen way back in November/December. Then the finalists all get phone calls on the same day in March, and around the world, writers are plastered to websites and blogs and Twitter feeds, waiting to see who gets “the call”.

The stress! Yeah, I would rather be chillin’ in kindergarten.

I brought my phone along, just in case, but kept it on silent.   So there I was, happily cutting crafts and stapling papers, when my pocket started to buzz.  I didn’t answer.  When I checked the number, I didn’t recognize it.  My phone told me it was a call from Texas, though (where RWA headquarters is located), so the next time my pocket started tingling, I ducked out onto the playground to take the call.

And it was a lovely lady from RWA Headquarters, whose name I will never be able to remember, calling to tell me that Surrender of a SirenRead More »

I don’t blog about the craft of writing all that often anymore. There are a few reasons for that. The first is that most days, actually practicing the craft of writing is just about all I can manage. Barely.

The second is that, the more books I’ve written, the less I feel I truly know. Paradoxically, it also seems like any advice I give should be actually useful advice–which kind of scares me, because I am not a teacher. Some people have a true gift for crystallizing points of craft and imparting them as useful nuggets to other writers. Sadly, I’m not one of them. Plotting systems, storyboards, character worksheets, articles that tout “The Four (or Five or Nine or Eighteen) Essential Elements to Story” just make me break out in hives. And when I say that, I don’t mean to disparage them. For writers whose brains are wired that way, I’m sure they are lovely, useful things. To me, it’s kind of like childbirth. I would not dare criticize a writer’s process, any more than I would criticize a woman’s decision to give birth in a swimming pool–whatever feels right for you and gets the baby (or book) out, it’s all good.

When discussing my reaction to storyboards, I have often joked that I am allergic to squares. It’s more like, I just don’t think about stories spatially. Doesn’t work for me. By the same token, I am very reluctant to put forth the way I write books as … Read More »

A while back, I shamelessly asked for blogging ideas, and Sarah Tormey (I believe?) suggested I blog about how my writing process has changed since I began writing romance.

Gee, what an interesting question! Honestly, I am not sure. Let’s see. I’m currently writing my 6th romance novel (not counting the novella).

Things that have not changed: My pace of writing. Compared to many, I am a relatively slow writer. If I get 1500 words in a day, I’m thrilled. With deadlines every 5-6 months, this has meant I must be very disciplined and write almost every day. Of course, I inevitably fall behind–and I’m able to push myself to write 4 or 5,000 words in a day occasionally, when I need to. But that’s rare.

I still use the same method of plotting (or lack thereof). I tend to sketch out a fairly loose plot, basically strung around a series of “moments” I’m building toward (turning points, I suppose you might call them). But the connecting scenes between points A, B, C, etc. usually develop and evolve as I’m writing.

I like to think I’m a little better at identifying plot or characterization problems as they arise, and taking steps to correct them earlier rather later. Not perfectly prescient, of course, but to some degree I think I’ve internalized the voices of my trusted CPs and editor and can “hear” what they’d say before they say it. 🙂

Which leads me to another difference–I don’t exchange writing with critique … Read More »

So, there was an article in the New York Times today that has generated some online discussion, much of which centers on whether it’s “stealing” for a Kindle user to allow a few friends to share her downloaded books. It’s not stealing, according to the terms of the Kindle user agreement. Customers are allowed to download a purchased book on up to five devices, much the same as a reader can pass a print book she’s purchased to her family and friends. Courtney Milan has a brilliant post today opining that such sharing is a reader’s right.

My own belief is that the sharing of books is not only a reader’s right, but an author’s benefit and a public good (that’s my librarian side showing). I’m not talking about piracy here, where a book is illegally downloaded thousands of times, but rather the sharing of purchased books amongst friends, family and neighbors. There’s a huge difference between the two.

I’ve had readers write to me to tell me they enjoyed my book(s), but then go on to apologize for the fact that they got the book from a library or a friend, rather than by purchasing it themselves. It just makes me sad that they feel they should apologize! Please, if any of you reading this feel that way – don’t. Feel free to write me and tell me your reactions about my books, however you obtained them. If your life is anything like mine, time is your most precious … Read More »

Hello, hope you all had a great weekend!

So, people have been asking about next year’s books, The Stud Club Trilogy. And I may as well start talking about them, since books one and two, One Dance with a Duke (5/25/10) and Twice Tempted by a Rogue (6/22/10), are now both available for pre-order! And because I’ve just recently received my lovely, sexy covers.


One Dance with a DukeTwice Tempted by a RogueThree Nights with a Scoundrel

What’s different about this series, compared to the first trilogy? Well, they’re a smidge darker in tone, as you’ll see from the series’ inciting event, but they still have a fair amount of lightness and humor. The characters are all a little older and experienced than they were in my first set.

But I’m sure the burning question is, “What the heck is the Stud Club? Are you joking?”

Well, I will admit. Like so many elements in my stories (hello, Werestag?), it did start as a joke. After writing a series that was largely heroine-driven, I wanted to switch emphasis to the guys this time. And one logical way to do that was to create my own take on a “Regency bachelor club” series. And if I was going to do that, I thought, why not call it what it is? A Stud Club. 🙂

But the Stud Club actually does have a meaning, and to explain, I will quote from the proposal I submitted for the trilogy:

In Regency England, horseracing was known as “The Sport of Kings,” the collective passion of

Read More »

Sorry to be away for a bit. My eldest dareling started kindergarten on Monday, and my youngest started at a new preschool. The Dare household has been settling into a new routine. It’s a rite of passage for us all…sniffle.

I had the most wonderful time with the book group at Sunshine Books in Cypress last week. The lovely ladies of Sunshine really know how to make an author feel welcome! This Saturday, I’ll be signing books at the Borders Express in Orange, CA, from 11 AM to 1PM. (1500 E. Village Way, Orange, CA)

Now that the darelings are back in school, I have more time to write. And boy, do I need it! Deadline for Stud Club book two (Twice Tempted by a Rogue) is fast approaching. Luckily for me, I’m able to combine deadline goals with fundraising goals for mega-motivation. For the second year, I’ve registered to participate in Unleash Your Story, a reading and writing event to benefit Cystic Fibrosis research. Once again, a group of us are teaming up–mostly friends from the Eloisa James/Julia Quinn Bulletin Board–to form the BonBon Chocolate Mafia. (Yes, of course there’s a story behind that name. But it’s long.) Last year, our team raised over $1200!

My goal for the month is 30,000 words (or more) by the end of September. I’ve added a little widget to the sidebar to track my progress. You can support this very worthy cause by either donating to my … Read More »

Woohoo! It’s release day all over again!

Today, book two of my trilogy, Surrender of a Siren is officially on sale! Siren stars Sophia Hathaway, Lucy’s friend from Goddess of the Hunt. Sophia is a beautiful, pampered heiress with a wild, irrepressible imagination, and she’s in for the adventure of her life when she boards the Aphrodite, a merchant ship owned by former privateer Benedict “Gray” Grayson. You can read a longer blurb and excerpt here.

Here’s what RT Book Reviews had to say about it:

4-1/2 stars and Top Pick! “Dare’s second novel cements her place as a “not to be missed” author. Her gift is for creating stories that are filled with adventure, three-dimensional characters and exciting plots, yet she maintains the purest form of romance.”

Speaking of RT, the review for A Lady of Persuasion just came out yesterday! It will also receive a Top Pick! in the October issue. That makes three for three! Says RT, A Lady of Persuasion offers ““..wry wit, endearing characters, laugh-out-loud moments, sensual interludes and poignancy. This is stellar storytelling!” And now that Siren is officially on the shelves, I’ve posted a nice, long excerpt of Lady here. (Warning — it’s mildly spoilerish, if you haven’t read the first two. But then, so is the blurb!)

I’m just happy as anything to watch Sophia and Gray’s story sail out there into the world. I can’t wait to hear what readers make of it!… Read More »

I can’t believe it’s just a week now til the release of book two, Surrender of a Siren!

Since Goddess of the Hunt came out, I’ve received so many lovely notes from readers through email, Twitter, Facebook, and such. If there’s anyone out there who wrote and hasn’t received a reply from me, it must be because something went astray in the Internet, in one direction or the other, because I have tried to reply to each message as they come in.

(Oh, the the person who wrote me to ask if my e-novella would ever be in print–my reply email to you bounced! The answer is, there are no plans to put it into print at this time. But thanks for asking!)

But please take this as my general thank you to everyone who has read the book and dropped by the site to find out more about me and the books coming up… I really appreciate it. I know it’s not easy to take a chance on a brand-new author! There are lots of books out there, and lots of demands on your time, and everyone has limited funds at the moment. Whether you buy the book or borrow it, every reader invests precious time and imagination and (hopefully!) emotions when she sits down with a novel. Thank you so, so much.… Read More »

Sorry it’s been a week since I posted! It’s been a busy week. After the whirlwind release of Goddess of the Hunt, I needed to spend some quality time with the family and then hunker down to get some progress made on all this other work…namely the Stud Club trilogy, coming summer 2010! I’m in the middle of writing book two, working on copy edits for book one, and as of this morning looking over the cover blurbs for the whole trilogy. I’m so, so excited about it.

Over the weekend, I had my first bookstore book signing! It was so much fun. The Costa Mesa Barnes and Noble was our gracious host, and I was lucky enough to share the table with my fellow local authors DeAnna Cameron, Debra Mullins, and Jennifer Haymore (who also writes as Dawn Halliday).
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

All this was exciting enough, but just as the signing was starting, a mysterious man came up and gave me a gift:

If you look closely, or click on the image, you will see it is a paper boat, labeled S.S. Siren, filled with paper goats. Now, amongst my good friends, my second book, Surrender of a Siren, is affectionately known as “Goats on a Boat”. But this strange man was not one of my good friends. So I was a little bit weirded out.

But the signing was starting, and people wanted to take pictures and have books signed, and so I just sat there … Read More »

Woohooo!! At long, LONG last, it is the official release day of Goddess of the Hunt. I am tempted to go into a long, sappy speech thanking everyone I’ve ever met – but truthfully, it’s 1 AM over here and I’m dead tired! That speech will have to wait. (Plus, it’s in the Acknowledgments. See page 361.)

I do want to tell you about some fun stuff I’m doing today to celebrate. And as with any good party, there are prizes involved!

I’ll be guest-blogging today at Romance Vagabonds about the timely topic of friendship–both in romance novels and behind-the-scenes of their creation. The post isn’t live yet as I write this, but I understand there will be prizes up for grabs!

The lovely Vauxhall Vixens also threw me a virtual surprise party to celebrate the release. If you want to read the words of overly generous friends saying completely gushy things about me, by all means, click over.

And last but not least, over at Courtney Milan‘s blog, she explains the day-long Goddess of the Hunt Twitter Talk contest. She’s giving away copies of my book, as well as some of the other fabulous historicals releasing today. All you have to do is get on twitter, use the hashtag #tessadare, and make patently outrageous assertions about GOTH and/or its characters. Elyssa Papa takes an early lead with this hilarious pic of President Obama holding “GotH”. See Courtney’s blog for specifics.

And somewhere in there, if you … Read More »