Chemistry 101–Mini Lesson 3

Physical description is a gold mine for a romance writer to heighten chemistry.

Especially when the hero/heroine is viewed through the eyes of the other.

  1. This is a very legitimate way to build physical awareness.  Because as one character is taking in the other physically and processing that information, they are, by the very nature of that act, becoming increasingly physically aware of that person.
  2. We are full of minor, interesting imperfections that if we observe about ourselves, would make us come across as either anal or appearance obsessed.  By having another character do it, particularly if it is a little detail that might not even get noticed by someone paying less attention, underscores that person’s physic al interest in us.
  3. By what he or she notices, you are revealing things about the POV character.
  4. By what he or she thinks as he or she observes the other character, you are revealing even more about the POV character.

And here is a massterful example from Meredith Duran, excerpted from Bound by Your Touch:

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UPDATED: His At Night–Preliminary Cover

Here it is!


The art department will be working to make the dress pop more from background.  I asked for my usual corrections (longer fingers and less boob on the hero).  And then, making my agent laugh her head off, I asked for a daintier foot on the heroine.

But other than those minor quibbles, I love this  cover.  Love the color and the flounces on her dress.  Love that there is more ladyback and less mantitty.   Besides, this cover continues the tradition of putting my heroine in a dress she never wears in the book.  🙂

When I get the final cover, we’ll do a side-by-side (or more likely a top-by-bottom) comparison to see if I get my wishes.

And in other news, the release date for HIS AT NIGHT is now May 25, 2010.

Updates below the fold. 

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Chemistry 101–Mini Lesson 2

A critical element to great chemistry is respect.  Your hero and heroine should see each other as equals, and not out of some politically correct we-all-have-the-spark-of-divinity worldview, but because they forcibly strike each other as so.

A perfect example below, from the Loretta Chase classic Lord of Scoundrels:

“Perhaps I had better demonstrate how the thing operates,” said Dain, yanking her attention to him.

In his low voice, Jessica recognized the too innocent tones that inevitably preceded a male’s typically idiotic idea of a joke.  She could have explained that, not having been born yesterday, she knew very well how the timepiece operated.  But the glint in his black eyes told her he was mightily amused, and she didn’t want to spoil his fun.  Yet.

“How kind,” she murmured.

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Chemistry 101–Mini-Lesson 1

Reader Beth had suggested that I make a blog post of the workshop on romantic chemistry that I gave at RWA National.  My immediate response was a demurral.  I had 11 pages of speaking notes–it couldn’t be done.  But then I gave the workshop again recently to my local RWA group, and afterwards I thought, you know, the best part of any such workshop is always the examples.  And I definitely can put up the examples and why I used them as a series of blog posts.  So thank you Beth, and here we go.

What makes for good chemistry?  Great conflict.

What makes for great conflict?  As my critique partner Janine asks, what are the lies that your character tells himself to get through the day?  Who is the person who by the very fact of her existence, by everything she says and does, exposes your character’s lies to himself as just that, lies?

In other words, who is this person who would cause the greatest amount of emotional disturbance in your character?  Who is the person your character most fears for the truth she represent, and yet who cannot be dismissed, precisely because of the truth she represents?

Put these two people together and you have tension, conflict, and chemistry.


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What Happens in the Las Vegas Suite

Stays in the Las Vegas Suite, of course.

But below, in no particular order, are the highlights of my trip.

1) The Woodley Park Zoo metro stop.  The escalator coming out of the metro stop is the longest and steepest escalator I’ve ever seen.  Going up for the first time, I had the distinct sensation that the man some ten, twelve steps higher up was hanging on for dear life directly above me.  It was dizzying, but in the best way.

2) The digital publishing experts.  I think I’d met both Angela James of Samhain Publishing and Kassia Krozser of Book Square and Quartet Press before–Kassia owns a very cool Barbara Cartland romance board game, if I remember correctly from RWA 2008 in San Francisco–but I didn’t really have a chance to speak with either.  This time I did.  And it was informative and eye-opening and most reassuring, to know that the wild, wild frontier of digital publishing is manned by cool, calm, in-charge women who know exactly what they are doing.

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Written on Your Skin: And You Call This a Book Launch?

I know, I know.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.  Today Meredith’s long-awaited WRITTEN ON YOUR SKIN hits the shelves and we’ve nothing for it.  In fact, I totally forgot about it until I saw the fabulous A+ review it received at Dear Author.

So I’ll just post a video of Meredith I stumbled across on YouTube last week.

As you can see, her photos don’t do her justice and she is disgustingly gorgeous in person.  Now time for everyone to run out and get WRITTEN ON YOUR SKIN!

RWA and Bookplates for You

RWA National Conference is upon us again!  Meredith and I will be there, not with bells on exactly, but with enough wide-eyed eagerness that you can’t really see our deadline-induced raggedness underneath.

We will both be signing at the Literacy Autographing, which is open to the public.

Wednesday, July 15
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Exhibit Hall

I was reading Joanna Bourne’s blog a while back and Jo, much better prepared than either Meredith or I, had custom bookplates printed ahead of time so that she could give them to readers who already had her books at home.   And I thought, what a great idea.  I emailed Jo and asked her about it, she very kindly emailed me back with step-by-step instruction on how to obtain similar bookplates.  Alas, then I asked the crucial question: How long would it take?

Well, there just wasn’t enough time.  So I abandoned the idea for a while.  But then I since I regularly make bookplates from mailing labels–not very pretty ones by the way, just functional–I thought, oh, what the heck, let me give it a try at home.

So for Meredith, I took the masthead from her website and shrank it down to fit a 1″ x 2 5/8″ label.


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Not Quite Enough About Meredith

I can tell you this much.  Neither Meredith nor I planned to be on deadline so soon together.  But well, we are.  🙂

Meredith has a deadline in August.  And so do I, since 10 days ago when my agent emailed and said she wanted the first draft of the next tour-de-force done by August 1.  LOL, guess no-matter how much I deny being in the shitty-first-draft camp, I’ve been unmistakably tainted by my undeniably shitty first drafts.

Had things been different we’d hold a much grander celebration.  But now we’ll just toss this little interview out and call it a release party.  Enjoy!

You have said on this blog that you brainstorm to blaring Top 40 hits on the radio. Can you give me some examples of songs that have helped Bound by Your Touch and Written on Your Skin take shape?

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Ye odds and ye ends

I’ve been going through an Oscar Wilde phase, which has led me to some intriguing primary sources, all of them fierce Victorian debates about interior design. What with Ruskin and Morris et al convinced that beautiful architecture and interiors made for serene and beautiful minds, designing and furnishing one’s home was A Very Serious Business in the 1880s and 1890s. I am instructed by said texts that it is crucial to have a central focal point for a room — a painting or an object d’art (preferably Japanesque) to orient one’s attention and soothe one’s aggrieved sensibilities and draw the whole room into perfect accord.

With this in mind, I must admit that this blog post is officially Aesthetically Unsound. There is no unitary theme or accord to it; it is drawn from the drawer in my brain filled with random, rattling shiny bits. I suggest you gird yourself for the five-and-dime experience by spending a moment gazing upon this authentically Aesthetic objet.

Beautiful, no?

All right, on to the glitter: awesome sisters, book trailers, and bad music.

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