How to Write Clean yet Scintillating Romance (Book Review)

Do I write romance? Kinda. There’s romance in almost every great book.

Do I read romance? Yes—a little here and there, and only when it’s in a genre I love.

Do I enjoy romance? As a girl, what can I say?  🙂

But there are times when good things are twisted into not-so-good things.

Such is the case with romances. There are two basic kinds—clean romances and dirty romances. There are romance novels that keep you locked into the story, crying over each heart-ache and “awwwing” over each handsome hero. Those authors keep out the love-making scenes and instead focus on the character’s character traits, how and why these people are attracted to each other besides physical drives, all the while presenting a clean, thoroughly enjoyable read. On the flip-side are the sex sagas—I’m not even sure if they should be categorized as Romance. People looking for a clean, wholesome guy-and-gal lovey-dovey novel would cringe at steamy bed scenes.

There are pages in the book of Love that does not have to be described and sprawled all over the bed—page, sorry–stuff that’s best kept close and private.

What is the meaning of Intimacy if we have to open every bedroom door?

The world has enough of sexy, dirty, naughty books.

And for us Christian writers and authors, it’s time to step to the plate and claim this segment of the novel-world for Christ.

The world is hungry for books that have value, that dig deeper than the imaginations, the fantasies, or the thrills. It takes courage to stand against the trend of things and say, “No, this is not right. This has to end. We are going to change this—by presenting something better, more glorious.”

That is why I felt my prayers were answered when I received word of an amazing author, Mary Gray, who had written a booklet on this very subject. I have found this book to be vastly helpful, extremely encouraging, and absolutely wonderful. It took me less than ten minutes to read through it, but I had learned so much from that little pamphlet that I’ll be sure to study it again and again.

Here is the book, a brief description, and links to the book at various book outlets.

Synopsis

Bodice rippers are some of the most lucrative books in the industry. So what if you write romance that isn’t as steamy? I don’t know about you, but I love reading and writing kissing scenes. And I don’t write explicit scenes with sex.

If you’re the same way, then you’ve happened upon the right book. In this brief nonfiction work, I’ll cover how to write clean yet scintillating romance–primarily, kissing scenes–in ways you may not have considered. I’ll share:

•    The best piece of editorial advice I ever received (when my first publisher bought my first book from my first agent)

•    A method I like to call action versus reaction

•    How to escalate a kissing scene

•    How to use rhetorical devices and setting to heighten heat

The author’s website: monsterivy.com

(I have not read Mary’s fictional works yet, but the non-fiction library she offers to authors out there struggling to be a light for God, with words,  in this dark world is well-worth reading.)

Below are the links to popular eBook stores online:

Amazon                     Kobo                 Goodreads

 

My Review: How to Write Clean yet Scintillating Romance taught me how to twist romantic subplots into my novels without dwelling on the gory details.  Mary Gray tells us how to make the most out of a simple kissing scene—nothing out of the ordinary in the romance genre—without making it X-rated. She includes examples to help authors apply her ideas in their own writing. She says what she wants to say in a clear, open way that is refreshing—no condemnation, no negativity—nothing but a frank, sincere voice that teaches us How to Write Clean yet Scintillating Romance.

 

I’m ready for some clean books, aren’t you?

 

Author #5… Hope Ann!

Once again, I have persuaded a fabulous author to do a blog interview with me!!  So excited!!

 

This time, she is a wonderful friend and inspiration (to me as a writer); and she is also a Christian, home-schooled gal.. just like me!! She writes speculative fiction, works part-time at a restaurant we Canadians may have a hard time finding, and… I’ll let Hope Ann introduce herself to you guys. 🙂

Enjoy!!

 

How and when did you start to write? What (or who) influenced you to go down this road? 

I’ve always loved reading. As I got older, I got ideas in my head that I wanted to share with people, so I started writing. Part of it was because, when I was younger, there were so few Christian books that were both inspiring and exciting – most got very preachy and it was annoying. But, in general, I just needed to write. Even when I didn’t enjoy it, it was something I did because I liked my stories enough I wanted others to read them.

 What held you on to writing and publishing through all the obstacles and trials toward being a published writer/author—before and after you first got published?

Stubbornness, mainly. There were times I didn’t care for writing or for my WIP but I refuse to give things up and I kept writing and eventually, as I learned more about it, I came to love the process, not just the idea of the finished product.

 Tell us about yourself in one sentence.

A dragon-riding, dagger-wielding, Christian fantasy author who also loves chocolate and Lord of the Rings.

 It’s so nice to know another home-schooled Christian author!! What aspects of learning and thriving at home helped with how you write, why you write, and what you write?

I was able to focus on writing and had time to write, not hours upon hours of school I’d never use. I was able to read, both fiction for ideas and nonfiction on whatever topic I was trying to reseach (currently it is weather and geography).

 Do you have a mentor(s) who walked beside you as you developed your voice and techniques?

Not really, at least not until the past year or two. I was pretty much alone as a writer the first years and taught myself. Then I discovered Kingdom Pen, got to know other crazy writers, and found a best friend. My learning exploded in leaps and bounds after that.

 How do you use your free time—if you have any? What do you do for a living besides writing?

Free… time? What even? Between two part time jobs, mentoring, writing, and marketing, I keep pretty busy. I read when I have time. And sometimes I have photo-shoots with cloaks and daggers, go roller blading, or tinker with all the random skills I’d love to learn.

 What do you wish you’d known about writing (and life in general) as a newbie in the writing world–before you got published?

Probably the value of building a platform and an email list. And just general marketing techniques in general. I keep updating things as I learn new stuff.

 What inspired you to work with Speculative fiction/ Christian fantasy, and story retelling?

Because that is what I love to read. The fairy tale retellings happened by accident, because I had a random idea to match them to fruits of the Spirit as novellas and it’s gone from there. 😉

 How many drafts do you usually write before you reach the final draft?

Depends on the project. I’ve a novel I’ve been working on since 2012 (I may have mentioned I don’t like giving up). I don’t know how many drafts I’ve gone through with that. With my novellas it is shorter. Perhaps six or seven drafts?

 Do you have a writing schedule? If so, can you share a little about it?

I get up early, so I try to get an hour of writing done before breakfast every day. After that it depends on my schedules with various jobs, but I like to get another hour or so done through the day. After dinner, I am able to settle down again, so I try to get an hour or two of work done between 8-10 when possible as well. 😉

 Do you have a favorite quote about writing?

Life is too short for reading inferior books. – James Bryce

 

Thanks so  much, Hope!! I hope you get to eat all the chocolate you want, be able to wield that dagger of yours for God’s Kingdom, and ride as many fire-breathers as your heart desires!! 🙂 You deserve it.

To my readers; I hope you all enjoyed this interview!! Sooner or later, I’ll be back with another author in tow…I’m not sure who yet. We’ll see.

God bless you all, and thanks for reading!!

Ah.. wait. I forgot something. ):

Hope was so very kind as to let each of you have a chance to read  her Rose of the Night novelette..for free!!  Just click on the link below.

Rose of the Night – free novelette

 

 

Dear February…

Dear February 2018,

You have been an amazing gift from God to me, from Day One to the Twenty-eighth. Sure, there had been great days and not-so-great days: but it has been my privilege to have experienced you and have you in my 2018.

For one, you are my birthday month. I turned the sweet age of sixteen years: I’m very thankful to God for that. Following my ‘coming of age’, I have taken and passed the Ontario G1 Driving Test—Who-hoo!!—and got to try my hand at Babysitting.

Countless experiences have dotted your landscape—so different from what I expected at the end of January, but so much better.

New friends have come my way, blessing my week, my life. I have grown closer to my parents, my older sister, and my Savior. There are certain relationships that are worth more than all the world to me; and to have seen them grow and flourish in this month has made me a much more thankful person.

During your existence I have made a few difficult and at times, painful, decisions. But they were necessary; I needed them to grow and mature as a young Christian lady. I have lost multiple contests, but gained experience. I have wasted precious time in February, misused hours, and squandered precious moments which could never be bought back.

But only through my failures and my shortcomings could I fully grasp what it is to succeed,  to do well, and excel.

Academically, this has been a fantastic month. I have progressed both in my High-school and College education: significantly less results than my initial balloons of achieved credits, but they have been solid—however slow—and I did learn. Which is what education is about, isn’t it?

The weather had been a trickster during your month, February. Got anything to say about that? The snow’s all gone these days, brown grass where icicles, skating rinks, and snow-white pastures were supposed to be.

(I did get to snag a morning of skiing with the family before the tiny crystalline wonders surrendered to the sun and warmth, though.)

During your stay I have discovered my God-given design, written down my personal vision and mission statements, and discovered what gifts and talents God has so graciously imparted to me. Now, in the coming months and years, I must develop and hone those multiple intelligences and motivated abilities, and work on my spiritual gifts.

As a wrap-up—it does feel a little strange writing a letter to a something which would never read it, and which would cease to exist once this post is published—here’s twenty-eight things I am thankful about in February—random, spiritual, funny, and serious.

 

I finished the 30-day HIIT exercise challenge.  From Darebee. I started the program in Dec, 2017/Jan, 2018.

 

I wrote a 3790 word short story in 1.5 hours. Edited and polished—3 hours.

 

Took a college course (Lumerit)—total score (after the final)=99.56%

 

Took and passed the Written Driver’s test...I now have a G1 driver’s license. A small step, but it is a step.  Ever onward!!

 

There is a God. He is Justice, Righteous, and Holiness. He is Love, Mercy, and Truth.

 

Experiencing spring in the middle of winter:  the weather is still experiencing a migraine and can’t decide which time of the year it is. It needs to find a doctor to fix up the insanity, or go to an asylum or something. About time winter goes on as usual, eh? Just my thoughts.

For the sunshine. 🙂

 

My boisterous little brothers, tearing around the house one minute, crying the other, and singing at the top of their lungs the third. Crazy, strong, cute, huggable—my brothers.

 

The blessing of an older sister. Yup—I only have one, and I had to learn to live with her all through my childhood. Not an easy thing to do, especially with our clashing personalities. But somewhere along the way, we’ve grown into a pair of study-buddies, chit-chatters(me, mostly) and overall friends—sisters by blood, sisters by heart, sisters in Christ.

 

For nice, rich, healthy, delicious food. Daily. All month long. Isn’t God the greatest?

 

For music. Now, I’d rather write for 10 hours than practice the piano for 1 hour. (but that’s just me). And though I do love music—it’s one of the best gifts God has given to us in this world—I’m wondering if much of that love of harmonized sound-waves were forced out of me in my situation. Just think of it. Violins, pianos and singing day in, day out. It’s hard not to go 100% out-of-your-mind crazy if you dislike music. It’s starting to get more tolerable; that is, when I have some sort of sound-proof den to escape to.

 

Computers. I could not have done 50%–definitely more, but it’s a fair percentage—of all I have done without the electronic brain. That’s actually the literal translation from the Chinese characters from the phrase that means “Computers”.  Electronic brain. No wonder.

 

I’m thankful for words.

 

I’m thankful for sunshine

 

I’m thankful for rain.

 

The snow that melted.

 

The ice that thawed.

 

For the two (hopefully pregnant) ewes in our barn.

 

And the chickens in the chicken coop.

 

For the opportunity to learn and grow in the Word of God. Day by day, step by step.

 

For all the colours of the rainbow—and those not contained therein.

 

For the number 16. If it wasn’t for sixteen, I would not be the age I am now:)

 

For the commandment to Love One Another. It was given so that our joy may be full. I want joy. And I’m sure, so do you. So go forth and love one another!

 

The fact that our faith and the Bible starts with the words ‘In the beginning, God.” Instead of “In the beginning, Nothing.” Or, “In the beginning, Bang.” There is meaning in life.

 

I’m thankful for my next breath. And for the countless ones God has given to me in February.

 

I am thankful for my existence, knowing that I do not deserve to be here or exist at all.

 

I’m thankful for the friends I’ve made that past month.

 

I’m thankful for the 28 days I’ve been allowed to thrive and grow in.

 

I am thankful for the month of February, 2018.

Goodbye, Feb. I’m sad to see you go

You’ve been a great month, a nice friend;

And though we’d part ways tomorrow,

Your influence in my life would never end.

 

So long, farewell
Yours in Christ,

Odelia J Chan

Author No. 4… Robin Patchen!!

I’m thrilled to be able to introduce another favorite Christian author of mine: Robin Patchen!! She has been so nice as to do this blog interview with me.

Robin Patchen, thanks a lot for taking this interview with me. I love your books, and learned from them. It is a great pleasure to have you here!

And for my readers, here’s another exciting author interview. I feel that y’all would be quite interested in who they are, what they write, and how they got on this exciting journey of being a novelist.

Robin Patchen

Bio: Aside from her family and her Savior, Robin Patchen has two loves—writing and traveling. If she could combine them, she’d spend a lot of time sitting in front of her laptop at sidewalk cafes and ski lodges and beachside burger joints. She’d visit every place in the entire world—twice, if possible—and craft stories and tell people about her Savior. Alas, time is too short and money is too scarce for Patchen to traipse all over the globe, even if her husband and kids wanted to go with her. So she stays in Oklahoma, shares the Good News when she can, and writes to illustrate the unending grace of God through the power and magic of story.

Find her on the web here at http://robinpatchen.com.

 

And here is the interview 🙂

How and when did you start to write? What (or who) influenced you to go down this road? 

I always loved to write. Unfortunately, I was a very shy and insecure girl, and I didn’t have much faith in my own abilities, so I didn’t share my dream of being a writer with anybody when I was a child. After one semester at business school, I knew business wasn’t for me. (Why do you need Calculus to get a business degree? After a semester of the class, I still don’t know what Calculus is.) At that point, I transferred to Northeastern University in Boston and studied journalism. I learned how to write and edit newspaper articles, feature articles, press releases, and marketing copy. I thought that was what I wanted, and I enjoyed it well enough. After college, I worked in marketing and public relations until my first child was born. Then I quit work to raise my kids. Fast forward many years, and for my fortieth birthday, my husband gave me a laptop computer. I’d had a story bouncing around in my head for years, and I decided to write it down, mostly in the hopes of getting it out of my head. Three months and 700 pages later, I’d found my passion—writing novels.

 Tell us about yourself in one sentence.

I am a Christ-serving, husband-loving, children-adoring, church-going, novel-writing, grammar-crazy short girl with a big smile and a talent for spilling drinks on unsuspecting dinner companions.

 What is most important to you when writing a book?

I want my readers to never get bored, to keep reading late into the night, to be compelled to turn the pages until they’re done. I want them to be thinking about my characters even when they’re not reading. And I want my stories to reflect the grace of God.

What held you on the track (of being a writer) through all the obstacles and trials toward being a published writer/author—before and after you first got published?

That’s such a good question, Odelia, because it’s not easy. When I wrote that first book—remember, 700 pages in three months—I thought I was the next Great American Novelist. I thought it was so good. The first slap in the face came when I realized what I thought was brilliant was actually, well, not. A lot of writers quit at that point, but I thought I could learn, and I poured myself into it. I was fortunate. I didn’t have a day job, and I did have that journalism degree so I knew how language worked. What kept me from quitting? The friends I met in my local writers group, the online critique group I joined, and other writing friends I met across the nation—and around the world—who encouraged me and taught me and shared resources with me. Also, I was given glimmers of hope from industry professionals. I’ll never forget the agent who said after reading the first few pages of my second novel, “You definitely have the chops.” She didn’t even request a proposal, but those words were fuel for months.

Which of your various novels is your favourite? Or are they all the same to you, after they’re published?

My favorite is usually the most recently published, so right now, Innocent Lies. I love the heroine’s determination to protect the man she loves and her son, even though I don’t really like the way she goes about it all the time. And I’d say second on the list of my favorites is Generous Lies, but that story is so close to home for me, it’ll always have a sweet spot in my heart. It’s about a man struggling to get his son help after discovering the boy is a drug addict. My eldest son is an addict, so my husband and I walked that path with him. I hope the story is an honest reflection of the feelings and fears we managed during that time.

 How do you use your free time—if any? What do you do for a living besides writing books?

Free time? What’s that?

I used to be so good at managing my time. It’s a skill I need to cultivate again. When I’m not writing a new book or marketing my existing books, I’m editing someone else’s books. I spend a good 12 hours a day in front of this screen. I need to build in more time for fun. What do I do for fun? Don’t laugh… I read.

 What advice do you have for budding authors—like myself—out there? Any sagely words of wisdom?

If someone tells you something like, “never use the word ‘was,’” ignore him. Like in most of life, the words “never” and “always” rarely apply to writing. But take most of the feedback you receive seriously and try to figure out what the readers didn’t like and learn how to do it better. Read a lot of craft books and try to apply what they recommend. Read a lot of other books, and read in and out of your genre. Analyze what you’re reading—especially if you love it. Ask yourself, what is it about this that resonates with me? What makes me want to turn the pages? The most important advice I can give you is to write often. Like every other skill, practice makes… well, not perfect, but better.

 I love the novel Convenient Lies: and can’t wait to read the rest of the series!! What inspired the Hidden Truth series?

I got an image in my head. No idea where it came from, but it was a picture of a woman holding a newborn and arriving in her hometown. I didn’t know where the father was, and I didn’t know what her story was. From there, I started filling in the blanks—where had she come from, who was she running from, what did she need? About halfway through writing Convenient Lies, I decided it would be the first in a series. It all started with that strange image.

Favorite quote on writing/life in general?

Favorite quote? That’s about as hard as narrowing down my favorite book! There are too many to choose from to pick favorites. I do love C.S. Lewis. This is one my favorites by him: “Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” Isn’t that a lovely thought?

 

And there you have it!! An insider’s look into the life and story of an amazing storyteller. And the best news is… Robin Patchen is giving each of you a free copy of the first book in her series Hidden Truth–the book that got me hooked: Convenient Lies!! Scroll down for the link: but don’t skim through the wonderful introduction to Innocent Lies!!

LATEST RELEASE: INNOCENT LIES

“Kelsey huddled in the corner, tried to make herself invisible. Outside, she heard a muffled voice, a shout, and the pounding of footsteps across the porch. Then, the unmistakable jingle of keys. The lock turned. The door opened. And her last chance for escape melted like snow.” –Robin Patchen, award winning author of Finding Amanda and Convenient Lies.

About Innocent Lies:

A lost little boy steals his heart.

When Eric finds eight-year-old Daniel alone in the woods, he has no idea where the boy came from or how he’s survived the wintery New Hampshire weather. He figures once he hands the boy off to child services, his part in Daniel’s drama will be over. He couldn’t be more wrong.

She’ll do anything to keep her son safe. 

Kelsey sneaks into Nutfield with a goal and a secret, but when she’s arrested and sees Eric, her first and only love, all her plans to expose her enemy fall apart.

The past catches up with them.

Together, Eric and Kelsey fight to protect Daniel, an innocent child caught in a dangerous game. Can Eric help Kelsey bring down her enemies without risking his heart…again? Will Kelsey have to walk away from the only man she’s ever loved…again?

 

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B0774WL7DR

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/innocent-lies-1

Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1127396772

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/innocent-lies/id1307084222

 

AND…. here’s the link to the free book: ENJOY!!

Download Convenient Lies absolutely free!

 

Thank you so much for coming on with me, Robin: I truly enjoyed doing the blog interview with you, and hope to be able to read more of you books in the near future!!

God bless you!! (and all those reading this:)

~~Odelia J.