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!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Make Your Own Kind of Music

A few years ago, almost by accident, I learned that listening to music while I write can spark tremendous creativity and inspire me to write words I didn’t even know I had in me. I was working on a new manuscript at the time and couldn't get past the first five chapters. I wasn’t even stuck in the middle; I was mired in the quicksand of a good idea that wasn’t turning out so hot on the page.

I was, however, determined not to give up on yet another almost manuscript. I decided to dig in, to stubbornly press on, and of course not much happened. Then I moved, and we all know how much writing usually gets done when a major life event occurs.

But, the move ended up providing me with a fresh start for my writing in a most unexpected way. I found the CDs for a music course I took in college again and feeling nostalgic I listened to the CDs. The CDs were filled with many of the classics, Mozart, Copeland, Smentana, Lidzt, and Brahms, to name just a few.

The music was powerful, emotional, compelling. It moved me, so I listened to it again and again, and then, almost like magic, the music and my characters began to fuse together and I finally I knew how to fix my story.

Life is tremendously busy these days and finding ways to write can be difficult. I’ve been trying to do at least an hour a day, no worries that the words are far from perfect, just as long as they reach the page. To keep me focused and motivated, I’ve been listening to tons of music while I write and I’m thankful to report the magic is still along for the ride.

For me, I think music gets all the parts I need to write (my head and my heart) headed in the same direction. Music is like a force of nature unto itself – it can move you physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. The word music finds its origins in the Greek word for muse, so I suppose it is no surprise it can be such an effective tool while writing.

I tend to stick to movie soundtracks, think Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, LOST (composer Michael Giacchino is a musical gem I would recommend to anyone), and Pride and Prejudice (2008), among many others, but depending on what I’m writing, more contemporary music can help to spark my imagination as well (thank you Coldplay, U2, Lifehouse, Sarah MacLachan, The Killers, and anything from the 60s and 70s).

Hey, it’s good to be eclectic.

I’m not one to give advice, but I hope if you ever get stuck with your writing, or if you never get stuck, but want to enhance your creativity, listen, really listen, to the music.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Cover Wars

There's a discussion going on right now at the Amazon Romance Community about how irksome it is when the cover of a book does not reflect the actual story itself. Some examples....the hero is actually terribly disfigured and he looks like Brad Pitt on the cover, the hero and heroine are Caucasian but there are African-American models on the cover, the heroine is a petite blond pixie-like woman and there is a tall brunette Amazonian model on the cover....etc, etc, etc. Other potential cover issues: they are tacky, poorly executed, embarrassing for readers to show in public, creepy, etc. I have seen readers give books a lower rating at Goodreads, Amazon, etc because THEY DIDN'T LIKE THE COVER!!!!! Jiminy H. Cricket! Which brings me to the reason for this much as authors say, "I'm going to ignore my hideous cover and just know that my writing is good and can stand for itself"-- the truth is....a book is the sum total of all of its parts and that includes the cover.

I see absolutely no reason whatsoever why authors should not be pushing for cover control in their contracts. Why not? Why does the publisher have the ultimate decision about covers? Why can we not have some input, work with the cover artists and make sure the artwork is accurate? Why can't this be a team effort instead of the authors being forced to accept whatever the publisher decides? "This is how it's always been done" is not an acceptable response to this question. So what? The publishing world is in the midst of a huge adaptation due to the advent of ebooks. It is possible for "The Publishing World" to grow and change and's a necessity in order to survive in this new technologically changing world. I think authors need to step back and think outside of the box. Just because we have never had input re:covers in the past, does not mean this is something crazy or unattainable. I think discussions should be initiated with agents and publishers, and authors should be included in the "total package"---for goodness sake, that's our book. That's our name on the cover. Allowing us to be included in the final product makes a whole hell of a lot of sense to me.

But maybe I'm just crazy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Release Day for Magician's Chains

I'm awfuly excited. Magician's Chains, my new erotic romance title from Ellora's Cave, released today. I posted the cover at my blog: if you'd like to take a look. This is my first fantasy erotic romance in comparison to Bound Odyssey which was a futuristic. The hardest part was making sure I did justice to the fantasy worldbuilding despite setting the story almost exclusively in modern day Las Vegas. No respectable fantasy author can create a world without understanding how the magic works there and their particular flavor of fantasy creatures. In my case it's the Fae for which I had to find my own spin. I hope you enjoy.

I'm chatting at the Whipped Cream yahoo group loop today if you want to join in. I was interviewed at their site yesterday. If you want to take a look it's still up.

My website has the blurb for the story at You can also take a peek at an excerpt from the first chapter if you visit the Ellora's Cave listing for the book.

Hope everyone can take a look.
Happy Wednesday,

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview with Samantha Wayland

The Quirky Ladies are excited to interview our own fellow Quirk, Samantha Wayland. Samantha's first novel, WITH GRACE, is due to be released this Friday, June 4th by Ellora's Cave. A hot menage story, Samantha's three protagonist are so beautifully drawn that the reader falls in love with them almost as quickly as they fall in love with each other. Added to the hot romance is suspense, sizzling sex, and a tear-jerker of an ending. To entice you further, let's get Samantha to answer a few questions about her story, her writing and herself.

Victoria Morgan (VM): So can you give us a quick blurb about your book?

Samantha Wayland (SM): Of course!

Grace loves her boyfriend, Philip, she loves her job, and she might just love her boss, but she can ignore that. She and Philip are building a life together and it's almost perfect. So what if their sex life is less than spectacular?

Philip loves Grace absolutely. She's the only woman for him. But the more he gets to know Mark...well, he can ignore that. After all, he's well practiced at suppressing his real desires.

Mark lives for his restaurant, Valentine's, but he can't resist flirting with Grace, his hostess, any chance he gets. And he can't remember ever being more attracted to a man than Philip. Not that it matters, as Grace and Philip are committed to each other and Mark respects that.

A lawyer yearning to shed his inhibitions but afraid to turn up the heat, a brilliant PhD candidate with the secret desire for more spice, and the chef who craves them both. When three passionate people dare to fulfill their appetites, they find the perfect recipe for love.

(VM): Told you it was a hot one!

So where did you come up with this story idea?

Same place all my stories come from -- the wilds of my imagination. I'd like to tell you that this story, a menage with one seriously happy woman, Grace, in love with two smart, interesting, gorgeous men, comes from some kind of personal experience, but it's not the case. Sadly. Not that I don't have smart, interesting and gorgeous man in my life, but I don't think he's going to let me add another like him.

(VM): Well said. Wouldn't we all love to be the heroine in our own romances.... Grace is a really endearing character, sexy, sassy and sensual.

What do you admire most in your characters?

(SM): Wow. That is an interesting question. I think in With Grace, the thing I love most about these characters is how honest they are with each other and themselves. It takes a lot for Philip, a man who has to this point always been in straight relationships, to even consider being with Mark. But he does, and he doesn't try to tell himself it's anything but what it is -- the hopeful beginnings of a new love.

(VM): Very true. Philip's character arc is really poignant as his love story takes him on a whole new journey, and I love how you have him embrace it with such honesty. I loved your characters, their humor, the strength of the emotions, and how you seamlessly join them together so the reader knows that only with each other can they find their HEA.

There is a suspense subplot in your story which pulls in the police to investigate matters. Did you have to do any research for this story?

(SM): Uh, golly. That's a kind of a funny question given the genre. See note above about my own smart and gorgeous man. Safe to say, some of my research is all about the imagination! And some is thanks to very patient friends answering some questions while we all pretended our faces weren't bright red. And then some credit does have to go to my darling man -- but he'll be embarrassed if I admit it, so we'll leave it there.

As far as the suspense plot, there is a wealth of information out there on how something like the Boston PD works, so I started from the internet and went from there. Also, I relished the opportunity to dream up a great restaurant in a neighborhood of Boston that is a foodie's dream come true. If you haven't explored Boston's South End, start saving up your points and get ready for a treat!

(VM): And you get to avoid using the dictionary which really bogs down those of us who write historicals! I think I like your research better....

So what are you working on next? What do we get to look forward to?

(SM): I've got a couple things going right now which I'm really excited about. In With Grace, you'll meet Detective Patrick Brown, whose got a story all his own I'm eager to share. You won't believe the mischief, he, his best friend and fellow police officer Brandon and their old friend Destiny get into. I'm also working on a trilogy of shorter stories involving Garrick, a professional hockey player who falls in love with two people (one of whom is his team mate!) and has to make it work!

(VM): Having critiqued some of the chapters in these WIPs, I want to say that Patrick's story has one of the hottest first kiss scenes that I have ever read. Not only does it rock the charts with its intensity, but the setup leading up to it is a riot! It's smoldering and hysterical if at all possible. And I'm not the only fan of this scene --it was a finalist in our own NEC Chapter's 2009 First Kiss Contest. Congrats, Samantha! Now we're really waiting for these HEAs....

On another note, when did you first fall in love with the romance genre?

(SM): Well, it would gall her no end to hear of this now, particularly given the genre I'm publishing in, but my stepmother is entirely responsible for my life-long addiction to reading and writing romance. I used to be bored stupid on weekends at my father's house and my stepmother had an absolute trove of Harlequin romance novels. And I'm talking the old-school white cover, little drawing in the circle Harlequins. The ones where the dramatic conclusion included a kiss and a marriage proposal? LOL.

I tried to read one of those recently and, with all due respect to the many fine authors that create these books, it made me want to poke my eyes out. Now, HQ has some good lines I enjoy sometimes -- like Intrigue and Blaze - but the originals? No longer for me. My stepmother, on the other hand, still adores them. Which, goes to show that one of the greatest things about romance novels is that there is so much variety in the genre, there really is something for everyone.

(VM): That is definitely one of the assets of romance writing. If one line doesn't work for you, there are so many others that can take you on a completely different romantic journey.

In regard to your craft, do you have a writing schedule? Are you a plotter or a panzer?

(SM): Well, as far as a schedule, I work full time and have a bunch of other commitments. In spite of all that, I try to set aside a certain number of nights per week and one day on the weekend to write. Of course, that gets blown to hell on a regular basis, but I think it's important to try.

And I'm definitely a plotter. In fact, I'm kind of a nutty plotter, sometimes writing a third of the book in outline form before going back and fleshing it out. Sometimes I think I love outlining way too much. I mean, this method works pretty well for me about 80% of the time, but on those occasions that I realize I've gone wrong in my story, it can be torture because I've already fallen in love with Plan A. Not that I won't eventually love Plan B, but the transition is tough.

(VM): One day your plotting will inspire me rather than scare me... It is impressive.

On to more important matters, do you have a secret indulgence?

(SM): So You Think You Can Dance. There. I admitted it. I just can't stop watching that damn show!

(VM): I'll have to check it out!

I know you've traveled extensively (I say that with total jealousy). Do you have a favorite city or country? What's the best romantic getaway abroad?

(SM): I've been all over, but I think if I was told I could only go one place for the next five years, I would choose London. I lived there for a time and while it's not necessarily the prettiest, the most romantic and sure-as-shooting doesn't have the best food, it's got so many wonderful people I love in and around it, I couldn't possibly choose anywhere else. Now, that being said, it is pretty, it can be very romantic and and the food has come a long way (baby) in the almost 20 (gasp) years since I started traveling there on a regular basis. Also, it's not possible to ever ever ever run out of things to do and see in that city. It's incredible -- art, history, fabulous jewelry! What more could a girl want?

And it's a quick train ride (through a very long tunnel which is way better than that damn ferry used to be) to Paris-- one of the top three most romantic places on Earth. And can we talk about the food there? Ymmmmm....

(VM): I went to school in London for a semester, and I'd have to agree with you. Add in the fabulous West End Theatre and Colin Firth and who could ask for anything more?

(SM): Colin Firth....ymmm.....

(VM): Yes, well, we digress. Then again, Colin Firth is always worth a detour....

Samantha, thanks so much for sharing insights on your new release, your writing craft, and tidbits about yourself!

We're looking forward to the release THIS FRIDAY, JUNE 4TH of your first book, With Grace. It is the perfect kick-off for the weekend! Grab a glass of wine, download this sexy romance, sit-back and enjoy! I did!

We wish you the best of luck!