Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day -- Writing Love Scenes

Writing Love Scenes

Aaron Paul Lazar

When I first started writing the LeGarde Mystery series in 2001, my daughters were teenagers. I was very careful to imply desire, to hint at bedroom scenes, and to be sure all references to intimate sexual relations were confined to a healthy marriage.
After all, I couldn’t let them think that Dad “thought” like that, or that I blithely wrote about all the things about which I constantly warned them.
Raising girls in the late ’nineties and early in the millennium was not easy. Social pressures abounded. From what I heard, most of my daughters’ classmates lost their virginity in middle school, and if you were one of the few who didn’t have a boyfriend, you were an outcast, a reject who wasn’t worthy of friendship.
As you can well imagine, it drove me nuts.
So I was very careful not to write about things I preached against, and thus my first and even second mystery series were quite wholesome. Not that Gus and Camille had more than a Victorian relationship until they were married. Sure, Gus longed for Camille in a very real and normal fashion. But he respected her past—a sad life with her abusive ex-husband—and he also had trouble ridding himself of his longtime allegiance to his wife Elsbeth, who’d died before the first book was written.
By the time I was working on my third LeGarde book, my star-crossed couple was finally united in marriage, and I wanted to write their honeymoon consummation scene. It was important for me to show Gus’s tenderness and his gentle treatment of his bride. And after all, my fans had been waiting a while for this moment. I had more than a few letters from readers (mostly men), asking when Gus was gonna get the girl, so to speak.
Something funny happened around the time I wrote Mazurka. I realized that my girls were not reading my work, (not much, anyway) nor were they in the least excited about Dad’s writing career, awards, or publishing credits.
No, their lives consisted only of real relationships, school plays, and boys, boys, boys.
How do you think I got this sprinkling of silver on my temples?
As difficult as it was in this phase of their development, it did free me up to write a bit more spontaneously. So I penned the scenes with tasteful romance, including only a few references (again implied) about the actual acts involved.
With a feeling of relief, over time I relaxed and, where it seemed appropriate, included some new scenes for my readers, including a love scene in the shower after Gus and Camille were almost killed in the underground Parisian Catacombs. It was an affirmation-of-life type of scene, and gave me the freedom to begin to experiment writing about sex and lovemaking. This is rather tame in nature, mind you, and since then I’ve graduated to sizzling love scenes that I’ve included in my romantic suspense series (Bittersweet Hollow series, Devil’s Lake , Devil’s Creek, and Devil's Spring and my Paines Creek Beach series, The Seacrest, The Seacroft, and The Seadog.)
Here’s a short scene I inserted into Mazurka just before it went to press. It was a first step in crossing over the “purely wholesome” boundary which I’d put up for myself in earlier years. I hoped to imitate the impressions I’d gained over the years from John D. MacDonald’s writing. I adored his love scenes, and often wanted to see if I could do it, too. I'm sure I’m not even close here, but see what you think.
“The soap and water streamed down her skin, intimate in its contact, curving along her hips and down her thighs to her feet. As we lathered each other, a mad desire to celebrate life consumed me. My lips touched hers. She hesitated for a moment, looked up at me through long, wet lashes, and then kissed me back.
It was different from the first time, almost frantic now. There was no shame in her eyes, no glimmering ghosts of our past. Although some of my injuries ached when we pressed together against the shower wall, the warm, moist coupling washed away the blood and pain.
When it was over, we embraced beneath the spray. Without warning, I choked up. She began to shake and looked at me. I recognized the hot burst of emotion that seared and welled in her eyes.
I fluttered sweet kisses over her mouth so she wouldn’t cry. She circled my waist with her arms, and kissed me back urgently. Dark hair streamed down her back as the water flowed through her sodden curls. She lay her wet face against my shoulder and held me tight.”
In hindsight, this passage is pretty tame, isn’t it? But it felt like a huge leap for me when I “allowed” myself to write more freely.
By the time I’d written many LeGarde Mysteries and three Green Marble Mysteries (featuring Sam and Rachel Moore), I realized no matter how many free copies I’d give my daughters, they just weren’t interested in reading at this time in their lives.
Now they’re all adults with husbands and kids. I knew it was time for me to let loose with whatever I wanted to write. And if they somehow, someday discovered that Dad had thoughts like a real man, well, so be it. (grin)
Here’s a scene from Essentially Yours, book 2 in the Tall Pines Mystery series, where I’m not only writing a romantic scene, but doing it from a woman’s POV. Let me know what you think. It’s definitely spicier than my two previous forays into this realm.
“Unbidden, scenes from our youth tapped at the edge of my mind’s vision. I felt the warm breeze blowing across my bare back while we lay in Sky’s family’s pontoon boat in the middle of Honeoye Lake at midnight. His feathered touch traced my spine; his fingers trailed around my hips and lower. I pictured the blond curly hair on his strong, young chest; the hard body that lay beneath the soft fuzz.
Damn. He’d been amazing. And he’d really cared about how I felt, if I’d been satisfied. I figured I’d been lucky. Most teenage boys rushed to conquer their hill, uncaring of the pain or condition of their lovers’ bodies. And most girls just took it, thinking it was part of the “first time,” anticipated hell.
Yet, Sky had read extensively before he approached me, looking up oriental techniques I’d never heard of. He’d known about special places that make a woman moan in pleasure. Made me moan in pleasure. Focused and careful, he’d done embarrassing things that made me crazy, disappearing beneath the blanket for long spells of time. He’d worked on me until moisture coated all of my tender parts. And he’d waited until I was so ready I didn’t think I could wait another second.”
Since these books were written, I’ve released several love stories and romantic suspense books. These types of novels—while certainly not erotica—allow for much more specific love scenes than a cozy mystery or an adventure story. If you read them, however, be forewarned, they contain explicit content. The “heat level” is about the same sizzle you might find in bestselling contemporary romance stories on the market today.
         In my humble opinion, there’s room for a little romance in almost every genre. Mysteries, thrillers, suspense, fantasy, and even science fiction can all be spiced up a bit without dropping suspense or departing from the main story. So don’t feel hamstrung when you write your next book. If it fits into your story, give yourself the freedom to explore your characters’ life in the bedroom, too. 


Today, in honor of Valentine's Day, I'm featuring a romantic mystery set in the wintry Adirondacks Mountains for 99 cents. Betrayal: a Tall Pines Mystery is book 4 in the series, but they can be enjoyed in any order. ;o)


Marcella Hollister realized a lifetime of hopes and dreams when she was given custody of a child. A cousin of her half-Seneca husband, Quinn, the baby’s mother was murdered in a political plot—and Marcella, who’s never been able to have children of her own, formed an instant bond with little Kimi.

Then a distant relative comes forward to claim Kimi—and Quinn, who Marcella thought understood her pain better than anyone, allows them to take the baby without a fight.

Confused and deeply wounded, Marcella takes off for Tall Pines, their secluded Adirondack cabin. She hopes the peace and natural beauty of the mountains will help clear her head and decide whether to forgive Quinn…or leave him.

But the situation at Tall Pines is anything but peaceful. Her high school lover, Sky, arrives to help out—and Marcella discovers her old feelings may not be as distant as she thought. Worse, a serial killer is stalking young women in the area. And when a teen girl whose mother works with Sky goes missing, Marcella and everyone she cares for wind up dead center in the killer’s sights. 


Check out Aaron's books and get a free copy of Devil's Lake at www.lazarbooks.com.


Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Writing Skinny and Puppy Love

How to Slenderize Your Manuscript by Kim Smith

This is a post from 2011 - I am recycling for you today. Since next week is Valentines Day, I want to wish you much love. Go get my latest love story. It has a dog in it. You will be in LOVE!

It's called PUPPY LOVE _ click the link below to magically be transported http://a.co/aw0E6tR

On with the post...

One of the things that gives me a happy frame of mind when writing is to have a clean, unfettered manuscript. When I wake up in the morning and open a WIP that has been edited, that has a streamline feel, and there isn’t garbage cluttering it up, I feel great.

When, on the other hand, I open my book and find extra plot-lines/unnecessary characters or just bad writing all over the place, it stresses me out.

These are a few tips for getting the junk out:

Do it in small chunks. Set aside 5 pages to work on at a time, and when that 5 is satisfactory, stop. Then tackle another 5 the next day. Conquering the entire work can be overwhelming, and you might decide it is hopeless and find yourself uncomfortably blocked.

Set aside a couple hours to do it. This may seem elementary… and it is. It’s simply a different strategy, and I say do whatever works for you. Sometimes, for me, it’s good to set aside part of a manuscript, or an entire scene to do in a set amount of time. The weekends are perfect! Just whatever works best for me in the time I have.

Sort through your manuscript and cut scenes and rearrange them. Have a folder to put the cut scenes in handy. When you pull everything out of a scene, send it to the new folder (I call this OUTTAKES but I am an old videographer, too). Put in new material, and make a decision: trash the old, add old to new, or keep new and leave old for a while until you are certain it won't hurt anything else in the book. Don’t put it back in the pile for a good while. You may find you never need it again, but that scene could fit in another work, or give you a muse-tweak that sends the book in a new direction.

Study your habits and see if you are making these unnecessary plots or characters out of a bad habit. Sometimes there’s a reason you have pages of crap all over the place, and an OUTTAKES folder that is stuffed full. Craft books with emphasis on writing tight might help.

Celebrate when you’re done! Give yourself a big old pat on the back. This sort of cleaning out the old junk and rearranging or reordering or plain old remaking your book is very therapeutic.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Five Tips for Book Marketing and Promotion

Book marketing and promotion is like an ocean. Wide and vast. Are you uncertain about doing your own marketing? Feel like too much of an introvert to be successful as a marketer? Don't know what a marketing plan is? Can't distinguish between promoting and marketing?

Well, you've come to the right blog then.

1. Authors should get as much knowledge about book marketing/promotions as they possibly can.

Recently, I watched over twenty videos, listened to over thirty podcasts, and am reading one of many many good books on this subject. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, just letting you know that I have done my homework, and encourage you to do likewise. There are more than enough resources out there.

2. Book marketing takes a lot of time, so if you have prepared a plan and know when and how to execute, you will find it a lot less burdensome.

A book marketing plan is the outline of how you are going to sell your book. Make it detailed, include what you want to achieve out of this plan, how you intend to get there, including book packaging (cover, edits, etc.), distribution (where will it be available for sale) and price (how much will you charge for it). Don't forget to include who will be your target market. Who is going to buy and read your book?

3. Understand the difference between marketing and promoting.

There is a gulf here that a lot of authors don't understand. Promoting your work is a piece of the marketing plan. They are a collective. Marketing can be about pricing structures, but promotions is about how to get that buyer to like that structure enough to hit BUY.

To promote a book, you should know what you are selling and who you are selling to. You can go out and talk about your book until the cows come home but until you understand that you are in the midst of bulls and not cows, you will never make a sale.

4.Get started early. Before that book is on the virtual shelf, you should already have plans in place and already actively be using them to sell that book.

It is important to get started with your book marketing plans before you self-publish.

While writing the book, ask yourself who am I writing this for? What do I want them to take away from the reading of my book? These sorts of questions will help you get that book marketing plan rolling.

5. Use promotions wisely. This facet of book marketing takes a lot of savvy and time.

If you are going to promote from your blog, be focused with your posts. You do not have to post all the time about writing the book, and so on - readers love to know the WRITER behind the book too.

A word to the wise: if you are interested in gaining readers for the book pre-publish, don't make everything about you. Readers are readers after all. Give them some excerpts, details about the cover art, like a cover reveal. Keep them interested.

I am happy to answer your questions, and love comments!