The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Saturday, February 28, 2009


The Quirky Ladies have a lot of exciting events coming up! Michelle Pressma will be interviewing author Joey W. Hill this week. Joey is a talented author who writes both paranormal and contemporary erotic romance. Her prose has been called exquisite, eloquent, erotic and dark-as-hell. Please check out the interview on Tuesday March 3rd. Joey's new book, A Vampire's Claim, the much anticipated third installment in her vampire series, will be released that same day.

The Quirks are also getting excited about our NECRWA conference coming up March 27-28. Jessica Andersen, best-selling author of 20 romantic suspense books for Harlequin as well as a new paranormal series about The Final Prophecy, will be one of the keynote speakers. Look for Dalton Diaz's interview with Jess, coming soon. Dalton is also thrilled to announce that her first book, Love Cuffs, is now out in print at Ellora's Cave.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

First Meets

I was watching the movie Holiday recently, and Kate Winslet's character befriends an elderly man who used to be a screenwriter for the old classics. He uses the term a 'meet cute' to reference the cute first meetings between the hero and heroine in movies. It reminded me of these scenes in romance novels. Similar to movies, the first meeting between the hero and heroine in a romance is one of the most anticipated scenes in the book. Every reader can't wait for it, flips the pages until she arrives at the scene, and relishes each line of it.

There are so many fun ways to twist the hero and heroine's paths together and when done well, these scenes are like a cherished gift. I return to read them again and again, doggy-earring the pages.

Who will ever forget Susan Elizabeth Phillip's hero in Natural Born Charmer, the quarterback Dean Robillard meeting Blue Bailey. While driving down a lonely stretch of a Colorado highway, Dean spots a young woman strolling down the road dressed in a Beaver suit. Of course, Dean stops his car. As he says, "it wasn't every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of the road." He picks her up to distract himself from his own depressing company and gets so much more. What reader can resist turning the pages to continue this ride and follow Dean and Bailey's story?

In Nora Roberts' The Star of Mithra I still remember Cade Parris' first sight of the rain drenched Bailey James strolling into his detective agency. While his heart stood still and his knees went weak, the only thoughts that came to his mind were "There you are, finally.  What the hell took you so long?" This one irritable line tells the reader Cade's been waiting for this woman forever. She's 'the one' for him. Fate sealed.  

Sometimes the connection is made without words. In Robert's Naked in Death, the first book in her J.D. Robb futuristic In Death series, who can ever forget Roarke's first glimpse of Eve during a funeral service, "without warning, he turned his head, looked five pews back across the aisle and directly into Eve's eyes. It was surprise that had her fighting not to jolt at that sudden and unexpected punch of power. It was will that kept her from blinking or shifting her gaze. For one humming minute, they stared at each other." And the rest is history. It's little wonder Roarke still carries around the button from Eve's battered rain jacket, lost during this first fateful meeting. Nearly thirty books later, and they're still the hottest married couple in romance. Roberts lets the reader know this from the first minute they lay eyes on each other. Now that's a great first meeting.

A pitch perfect first meeting can often encapsulate the essence of a character in the scene. Suzanne Brockmann does this brilliantly with Ken 'Wildcard' Karmody when he meets Savannah von Hopf in Out of Control. Kenny stops to assist Savannah with changing her flat tire. The day is steamy hot and Savannah has hiked up her skirt and unbuttoned her blouse so Kenny is teased with a glimpse of her red lace bra. 'Holy God,' he thinks and immediately composes a letter to Penthouse. But later, Kenny admits he had gotten out of his car with the intention of helping anyone regardless of who they were, but he admits to the bonuses in Savannah being pretty, red-hot and not wearing a wedding ring. This is a spot-on bio of Kenny. He's a kind, sex-obsessed, hot alpha male. What woman doesn't wish for Kenny Karmody to stop to change her tire or just stop for her, period.

Who will ever forget Claire Randall setting Jamie Fraser's dislocated shoulder in Outlander, Diana Gabaldon's first book in her epic time-traveling Outlander series  Scared, disoriented and abducted by a Scottish highlander, Claire is dragged into a dark cave packed full of these highlanders and yet she shoves these formidable warriors aside to treat Jamie's shoulder. The reader immediately thinks Claire, a trained nurse, in confronting these men, is either incredibly courageous or crazy. Jamie, wounded and in pain, emits no protest when this strange, bedraggled woman screams at the men to step aside, grabs Jamie's arm and pops it back into its shoulder socket. Like Claire, in letting her near his wounded arm, Jamie is either incredibly courageous or crazy.  The two are made for each other.

Who doesn't laugh hysterically in Sophie Kinsella's Can You Keep a Secret when Emma Corrigan thinks her plane is going to crash. Believing death imminent, she babbles on in a runaway commentary, confiding intimate details about her g-spot, her boyfriend and her love life to the handsome stranger seated beside her. Of course the stranger turns out to be Jack Harper, the CEO of Emma's company. Now who isn't biting at the bit to see Emma face Jack again, knowing she's spilled all her deep, dark secrets to this man??? 

I could go on and on. How about Will Parker answering crazy Elly Dinsmore's wanted ad for a husband in LaVyrle Spencer's poignant story, Morning Glory? I can still hear Elly's plaintive thoughts at the end of the scene, "Stay.  Will Parker.  Please stay." How can we forget Shanna venturing into a dank prison cell to find a man to pose as her husband and meets Roarke Beauchamp in Kathleen Woodiwiss' classic romance, Shanna. Neither couple ever realizes their fates were sealed in these pivotal first meetings.  But the reader does.

Once we witness these first meetings between hero and heroine, even if they have yet to fall in love with each other, the author has made sure to hook the reader. Who doesn't want to turn the pages to relish more of these character's stories, to watch them fall in love, and ultimately to fall in love with them? I do, again and again. 

Share in your comments a favorite scene of yours...

Delusional Romance Novelists Unite!

According to E Online, "Despite all the current warm fuzzies about the love between Jennifer Aniston and John Mayer, OK! claims to have a source that says when Jen and ex-husband Brad Pitt's eyes met, they both realized they still had feelings for each other. Our eyes met this cover story and we wondered if said source is a delusional romance novelist."  I have decided to take offense at the use of "delusional romance novelist" in this asinine news story.  I may be melodramatic, emotional, sensitive, lusty, enthusiastic, imaginative, talented, thoughtful, insightful, and perhaps even optimistic. But never delusional.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Working Vacations

Here I sit
Broken hearted
Tried to write
Only started

This rhyme pretty much says it all, since it's the best thing to come off my fingertips this entire week. I'm on a ski vacation with my family. That is, my family skis and/or snowboards and I get left behind in the condo to write. It's perfectly lovely when that's what happens. This year, it is not going well.

I wonder why? Truly. I mean, it's only after 11 am and the rest of them just made it out the door. Hell, I probably have a good hour before they start clammering back in to eat something before deciding it's too cold, too wet, too much of a hassle to get their gear back on to go back up the mountain. Freakin' teenagers. Don't they know how hard it is to write a sex scene while they're punching each other over who has to empty the dishwasher this time? I lost it this morning, and the last half hour of getting their gear on was spent in complete silence. It was lovely, and shame on me for putting up with the crap all week.

I need a vacation from my vacation.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Since the Quirkies shared books they felt were the most romantic, I started wondering about what we mean by the term romantic. Turning to, the first entry that popped off the page at me listed romantic as meaning fanciful, impractical and unrealistic. And while falling in love is frequently all of those things, the definition itself mentioned nothing about love or relationships or expression of passion and affection. The next down the list referenced romantic as meaning imbued with or dominated by idealism. Again, the "love" word was absent. Not until the third definition down did we get hit with the big "L." There were six entries in total and only two explicitly mentioned love. The final definition listed romantic as meaning imaginary, fictitious or fabulous.

It struck me, after reading this, that it was not so much the passionate, sweet or sensual love stories we keep forever etched into our minds that embody the Valentines holiday. Instead, it is our work as writers itself. Being a writer of fiction is a romantic venture, whether you actually write romance or not. The effort can be called fanciful, impractical(because really, writing does not make anyone wealthy unless they're JK Rowling and a few other exceptions), unrealistic, and dominated by idealism. In it we launch ourselves into an act of creating the imaginary, fictitious or fabulous. And mostly, we do it because we love it. Okay, so there's that "L" word again.

To celebrate Valentines Day in my household, I'm going to sit down and write more of my manuscript. Maybe not the way one usually envisions spending this holiday, but I already got the flowers from my husband, so I'm all set.

Happy Valentines Day!


Why a Synopsis is like a Movie Trailer

I am addicted to movie trailers.  Don't actually get out to the movies much, but I enjoy the theatrical clips.  Recently I viewed the trailer for The Wrestler, and it occurred to me that these video clips are essentially the same thing as a synopsis.  Microcosms of the film itself, intended to give the viewer a feel for the genre, the flavor of the film, the ideology of the director, the talent of the actors, the vision of the screenwriter.  A daunting task to be sure, all summed up in 60 seconds. Writing a synopsis is just as challenging.  How is it possible to give a publisher some idea of who you are in just one measly page?  You have to hook him with a brilliant idea, summarize your entire story, introduce him to your characters, and reveal your unique voice in one page of print.  As I watched the video trailer for The Wrestler, I got chills.  I was utterly intrigued by this clip, and not in the "I'm being manipulated by this melodramatic music" sort of way.  The director nailed it, perfectly.  I got a real sense of Randy the Wrestler, the flavor of the film, and was curious enough to want to watch this movie.  But even if I don't see the movie, this short video accomplishes something on its tells a mini story, and I thought it was brilliantly done.  I think writers should approach our synopsis in the same vein. Instead of dreading a one-page summary of our work, we should view it as a mini-creation, able to stand on its own.  What a fabulous challenge for a writer! It forces us to capture the essence of who we are, and what our story represents, and to cut out any superfluous information. Whittling down our story to just one simple page. Our synopsis is the haiku of our manuscript...making every word count.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Best In Show

While watching the Westminster dog show this week, I was reminded of some of my favorite romance novels that feature unusual canines.  One that comes to mind is Dark Symphony, by Christine Feehan. Byron, a Carpathian vampire, gives his blind lover a borzoi to watch over her while he is "indisposed."  This dog is as fierce and loyal as the hero, and the symbolic gesture adds greatly to this dark, romantic story.  Although I am not a big fan of contemporary romance, I adored the book Take A Chance On Me by Susan Donovan. One of the main characters is a Chinese Crested, which is seriously one of the funkiest looking dogs on the planet. The juxtaposition of a big, hunky rugby player, an earthy veterinarian, and a bizarre pooch wearing a sailor suit and entering dance competitions, makes for a hilarious and touching book. Of course, all shape-shifter romance novels take advantage of our preoccupation with the animal kingdom. It's hard to resist a romance that highlights the loyalty, courage and intensity of a wild animal.  Watching the Westminster dog show really captures the personality of each breed...some are elegant and deliberate in their gait, some peppy and filled with joie de vivre. What a great source of creative inspiration! 

Monday, February 9, 2009

Celebrate Valentine's Week!

The big Kahuna of romance holidays is just around the corner...February 14, Valentine's Day. Although I have some nightmarish flashbacks from working in a flower shop on this consumer-driven holiday (think rose thorn injuries!), the concept is very sweet. Celebrating love is what romance writers do every time we create a new story. Valentine's Day also holds a special place in my heart since my husband and I started our courtship on this day in 1987, when I left a hand-made Valentine pinned to his dorm room door. I told my friends I was going to "rock his world" and needless to say, I have been rocking it ever since. To commemorate this holiday, The Quirky Ladies would like to recommend the author/book we consider to be the epitome of romance. Enjoy this wonderful holiday with chocolate, (thornless) roses, and of course...a romantic book!

The Quirky Ladies Valentine's Specials...

Nina- Simply Love by Mary Balogh...Balogh is the master of deeply romantic love stories, and this book about two damaged souls finding love is extraordinary.

Dalton-Virgins by Caryl Rivers (This the book I read that made me fall in love with backstory!) Also, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, and The Admirals's Bride and Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann. After the Night and Kill and Tell by Linda Howard. Oh, and about 500 others sitting on my keeper shelf, but I'll let someone else talk now...

Vicki- Paradise by Judith McNaught, an old time, sentimental favorite. And Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, which is a more complex, multi-layered romance story.  I also adored LaVyrle Spencer's Morning Glory and November of the Heart, both of these romances were so poignant they made me laugh and cry.  Suzanne Brockmann's Out of Control with Wildcard Karmody, who finally finds the love of his life while fleeing for his life in the jungles of Indonesia  is also a fun ride filled with romance and adventure.  

Michelle - The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop. Yes, the entire three books. Although it's housed in the fantasy, not romance section, I'm amazed time and time again by these three books and Bishop's ability to weave a believable sense of dark, sensual destiny bringing the hero and heroine together. Daemon, the hero, is born knowing he is meant to be Witch's lover. And by the end of their journey on twisted paths to reach one another I sure believe it.

Kate - Saving Grace by Julie Garwood. To be honest, I'm chosing this for purely sentimental reasons (although it is a great romance regardless). I'd given up on reading romance in college because the women in the books I had been reading just didn't speak to me. Then I was given this book by my roommate and it changed everything. Johanna is strong, smart and sassy and the story is fast, fun, touching and hot. Perfect.

Tara - Bittersweet by LaVyrle Spencer. It was one of my first "big" romance reads after graduating from shorter Harlequin Romances (think white covers with a couple encircling each other in a circle, no less). The hero and heroine, Eric and Maggie, were in their mid-to-late 30s (imagine that!) and were so well written they seemed like real people. They had a an epic love story. They loved each other as teenagers, lost each other, gone through other marriages, and then suddenly found each other again. They had a torrid affair, their families were aghast and I was in love with them and their story. After reading Bittersweet, I continued reading bigger and more sweeping romances. In fact, I now write single title contempories myself and thank Ms. Spencer for inspiring me.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Love Backstory

I love backstory.

What I'm talking about here are the things that shape our hero and heroine into who they are; all the beautiful moments they cherish, or those unavoidable blips in life that cause anger, fear, dislike and outright prejudice.

My personal favorites, though, are the backstories when the hero and heroine knew each other growing up. I love it when they are teen lovers, break up, and then meet again as adults and go for the HEA. I want every word of growing maturity as teens, every discovery, every caress, every argument.

Alas, this is why my first book will never see the light of day. I wrote what I wanted to read, not knowing it was taboo to include four chapters of teenage backstory in a twelve chapter book. (Or to use up a year's quota of exclamation points, but that's a blog for a different day.) Yes, it has been done and done well by the likes of Lavyrle Spencer and Judith McNaught, but both were well established before they broke the "rules". And both are two of only a handful of phenomenal writers who reside in a class by themselves.

The thing is, I still love my first book. I go back to it time and again, like a good friend who never fails to give me a boost. I really love the characters, and my favorite parts of the story are still those teen years. I don't need therapy to know why. Their beautiful relationship is everything my own teenage attempts at love failed to be. It's my way of having that romance without wishing I could actually change a thing, because just like with the characters, those experiences made me who I am today.

Maybe someday I will reduce those four chapters and incorporate them into their current story. Maybe not. Just the thought of it makes me feel like I'd be taking a knife to a friend. I know we all have to learn how to do that, and I have done it with no problem with every other book. Just not this one.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Valentine's Day Contest at Penelope's Romance Reviews

Penelope is excited to announce a contest to commemorate the most holy of all romance holidays....Valentine's Day! Please stop by Penelope's Romance Reviews to enter the contest. What do you think is the most romantic book ever written?  Let her know and you might win a paperback novel of your choice from Amazon. Happy Valentine's Day to all!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Enough with the Snow

No disrespect to Wilson Bentley and his lovely snowflake images, but I've had just about enough of the white stuff for the year. Possibly next year, too.

Maybe I'm imagining it, maybe I'm getting old and crotchety, maybe I've been freezing my ass off since I had my son and he (not I) retained all the glorious warmth that used to infuse me all winter long, but it seems like it's been snowing non-stop for months. And not just little dustings, either. We're talking mountains of snow. Rock hard, frozen browning mountains of snow. For you see, the last batch was followed by a lovely rain that crusted the earth and my freshly shoveled driveway into a hard lump of ice - a naturally formed ice skating rink that only yesterday, our first day above freezing in god knows how long, I managed to chip up and eject over the ice mountians and onto my equally frozen lawn.

Now, I'm a happy person. Really. Okay, you'll just have to take my word for it. But winter has lost its appeal. I used to be one of those lunatic New Englanders that relished the very thought of winter. Sledding, skiing, skating, hot chocolate in the front of the fire, cuddling up (preferably naked) under the blankets in a cozy bed. I was loving it. But now an important change has come over me. I am a Home Owner. Those Norman-Rockwellesque imaginings of the joy of winter were based entirely, it turns out, on the fact that my father, stepfather and the dude my condo association paid, were the ones shoveling their asses off all those years.

Now it's me.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Snowflake Man

Since we New Englanders are currently inundated with the white fluffy stuff, I thought I would post a link to The Snowflake Man. Wilson Bentley, otherwise known as The Snowflake Man, was the first person to photograph a single snow crystal in 1885.  His accomplishments in photomicrography are fascinating considering his humble beginnings in rural Vermont. Since my WIP focuses on the Klaus family in the North Pole, snow is sort of a major character in my series. I am definitely planning to incorporate Bentley into my story somehow...maybe Santa is a big fan? Who knows. Anyway, checking out Bentley's gorgeous photographs of snow crystals just might help you get through another day of bitter cold and mentally prep for the next storm.