I'm a guest at fellow author Tara Kingston's blog and I'm giving away a copy of Faceoff! Come on by and find out a bit more about me and say hi! I'll draw the winner Sunday Sept 25/11.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Saturday, September 17, 2011
There was recently a fascinating discussion at Dear Author about accuracy in historical romances. Some very interesting and intelligent perspectives were shared. Here are my own thoughts about it. I don’t write historical romance, and I don’t read a lot of it any more. It’s not that I don’t like it, but it’s not my first love (which is contemporary) and these days my time for reading is limited.
I suppose if I read a book that was full of inaccuracies that kept pulling me out of the story, I would be annoyed. I might think less of that author because he or she didn’t do enough research, or was sloppy or careless in their world-building. I suppose there are books like that out there. But more often you’re likely to encounter a couple of small slip-ups in a book. How serious is that to readers?
When an author writes a book, he or she is building a world. A world that readers have never been to. Whether it’s science fiction, paranormal, or contemporary, it’s still building a world. In science fiction (which I fully admit I do not read) I’m guessing that writers make stuff up. It might be based on science or scientific principles, but I bet a lot of it is made up. In my contemporary romances, I’m building a world that my characters live in that nobody else has ever seen. We may all live in contemporary settings, in houses and apartments, and work in office buildings or whatever; but nobody has ever seen the world my characters inhabit―because I’m making it up. A reviewer commented on my contemporary romance Breakaway that I had gotten the names of the NHL teams wrong. I didn’t get them wrong―I made them up. And to me, a historical romance is the same. It’s building a world that readers have never been to. Base it on reality to make it realistic for me, something I can visualize in my mind and enhance with my imagination, make it plausible―as with any fiction. But the writer is making it up.
I don’t think it is possible for an author to write a romance set in an historical setting without having some inaccuracies and anachronisms. Even scholars don’t always agree on history. We all know that personal hygiene standards were much different then than now. (Or do we?) I will admit that when I read a historical romance and the hero has perfect white even teeth I chuckle a little. In historical romances, it seems the characters do a lot of bathing, which is also apparently inaccurate. If romance characters talked the way people really talked in the middle ages, nobody would want to read it. On the other hand, few contemporary romance characters ever have morning breath. We forgive these inaccuracies because it is a romance. I guess I’m forgiving of some inaccuracies in any romance sub-genre. Yes, I’ve read books where I’ve come across a detail I know is wrong. I enjoy my little moment of smug superiority, but if it’s a good book, I move on with the story.
I guess I don’t understand reading a book for the purpose of finding things wrong with it, rather than just reading it for the enjoyment of it. So there was no such thing as yellow silk back then? I don’t care! And I also can’t imagine doing research to find out if I’m right. Oh...I know there was no yellow silk in that time period. Or do I? How do I know that? Do I know it because I read it in another romance novel? Or do I know it because I studied history in such detail? Maybe I’d better make sure I’m right before I spout off about this historical inaccuracy and do the research. No, thanks. I’d rather just accept that in that fictional world, there was yellow silk. I’d rather just read the book for the pleasure of it than spend hours doing research to prove I’m right and the author is wrong.Do readers need to be alerted that there are inaccuracies in historical romances? Or in any romance sub-genre, for that matter? Do you want to know that she could not possibly have been driving east on Main Street in Anytown, USA because that street runs north and south? Do you want to know that that was not the type of corset women wore in 1844? Do you want to be told that there are really no such things as vampires or werewolves
Friday, September 9, 2011
Faceoff is a novella featuring Tag Heller. You may recognize the name from my book Breakaway. Tag is the oldest of the four hockey-playing Heller brother. When I wrote Breakaway I intended all the brothers to have their own stories and when my publisher Ellora’s Cave put out a call for submissions for an “Oh Canada!” theme, I thought, what is more Canadian than hockey? So I wrote Tag’s story.
Although this book is short, it’s special to me for a couple of reasons. One is that I get to use my own city as a setting. You all may have noticed that most of my books are set in California, in either a fictional or real city. This seems to me a much more exotic and romantic location than my own city, but California is also special to me. My husband went to school there and we love to go back often to visit. But writing a book set in my own home is pretty cool! Even though I still had to spell words “funny” (favor instead of favour, canceled instead of cancelled!!) I got to talk about degrees Celsius and kilometres per hour! Also my city is pretty cool – yes we have problems with poverty and violence and crumbling infrastructure, like many cities, but we have a vibrant arts culture with a lot of theatre, concerts, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, etc. We also love sports here – our Canadian Football League team the Winnipeg Blue Bombers has a long and proud football history, and our baseball team the Winnipeg Goldeyes are having a great season. But what are we missing...? A National Hockey League team!
We used to have an NHL team but in 1996 the owners were forced to sell the Winnipeg Jets and they moved to Phoenix to become the Coyotes. At the time, the Canadian dollar was weak and it was expensive to pay those players’ huge salaries in American dollars, plus travel to the US cost more. Also, the arena they played in was old and didn’t have luxury boxes or concession stands to generate a lot of revenue. The city was devastated to lose our team and like most, ‘Peggers, I always kept hope that some day the Jets would come back.
Which is the other reason this story is special! It is a Canadian fantasy come true—a hockey fantasy. It’s been no secret for years that two businessmen wanted to purchase an NHL team and bring it back to Winnipeg. I so much admire how they went about it, very low key. They built a new NHL quality arena, purchased a farm team and ran it like an NHL team, found financing that was solid and made it known to the NHL that they were interested in purchasing a team. There were years of rumors, disappointments and false reports of done deals, but hockey fans in Winnipeg continued to fantasize about the NHL returning.
As I worked on edits to Breakaway, it seemed these Winnipeg businessmen were very close to purchasing the Phoenix Coyotes (which were the Winnipeg Jets). Thinking ahead, I changed the team Tag Heller played for to a (fictional!) team in Phoenix (called the Stars, not the Coyotes) and when I started writing Faceoff, Tag’s story, I wrote the fantasy—the NHL had returned to Winnipeg!
I had not yet submitted Faceoff to my editor when the real life story changed—it was no longer the Phoenix Coyotes being purchased, it was the Atlanta Thrashers. I couldn’t change my story to match reality because I’d already planted the seed in Breakaway that Tag Heller played for Phoenix. Oh well. I named the new Winnipeg team the Jets in my book, even though every other hockey team I mention in Breakaway and Faceoff are fictional NHL teams—at that point we didn’t know for sure the deal would even happen and if it did, whether a new Winnipeg team would be called the Jets or something entirely different.
The day after I submitted this manuscript to my editor, the story did come true—the NHL was returning to Winnipeg! The true story didn’t play out exactly as it does in Faceoff (which is fiction), but the basis of the story is accurate and the hockey fantasy is the backdrop for the romance fantasy between Tag and Kyla. (And they did name the new team the Jets!)
Of course you’d think a Canadian-set book would take place in the winter, right? But I wanted to show that we also have awesome hot summers here (we sure did this year!) and the local culture of summer weekends at the lake cottage. We are fortunate to live near a lot of wonderful lake country. So Faceoff takes place in the hockey off season, just after the deal has been made public that the team is coming back to Winnipeg. In real life, there is no Winnipeg born and raised player on the new team, but I liked that idea of a “home town hockey hero” returning to his roots – which has its complications for Tag!
Here's an excerpt from Faceoff:
They were alone on the beach. Around the rocky point that separated the public beach from the cottages, the public beach was probably filling up with people, beach blankets and umbrellas, but here nobody else was out yet.
“You coming skiing later?” He rubbed the towel slowly over his chest.
“Mom’s planning a game night tonight at our place. You’re all invited.”
Kyla nodded. “Cool. Just like old times.”
She studied him, his tanned skin gleaming in the bright sun, remembering the game nights of the past, how competitive he and his brothers were. And how competitive she was and how they’d had cut-throat games of Monopoly and Rummikub and Trivial Pursuit. She watched a drop of water slide down the side of his neck, then lower, slowly trickling down his chest. She wanted to go up on her tiptoes and lick that drop of water.
Heat suffused her body, and not from the noon sun overhead. Flashes of her dreams returned, hot glimpses of Tag naked, underneath her, on top of her. She swallowed. She lifted her gaze to his face and the heat in his eyes had her breath stalling. Tension arced between them as they stood there eyeing each other. When he looked at her mouth, her eyes went heavy-lidded and her heart began to thud.
“Oh man,” he said. He swiped the towel across his forehead, breaking the eye contact. She blinked. “Kyla.”
“Don’t look at me like that.”
“Um...like what?” As if she needed to ask. She wanted to eat him up. But did it show that much?
He looked her in the eye again. “Your brothers would kill me.”
Her breath came in choppy little pants. Her insides went hot and liquid. “What am I supposed to say to that?” she said, her voice breathy. “We’re not teenagers any more.”
“No. We’re not.” They were both remembering the last time this had happened. A long time ago. Heat built hotter between them.
She was used to going after what she wanted. She had a plan for her career and she worked to make things happen. If she wanted Tag, why couldn’t she have him?
Last time he’d tried to make a joke of it. As if he didn’t want her. This time, older, wiser, more experienced, she could tell he did. Was he really going to let their families stand in the way of what they both wanted?
“My brothers have no say in who I...” She stopped. They’d been tiptoeing around it and when it came to saying it outright, she found she couldn’t.
He smiled, that sexy lift of his wide mouth that melted her. She couldn’t breathe. Her body thrummed with sexual tension. “Think about it, Mac,” he said, his voice low and raspy. “We may not be teenagers but we’re here with our families. Every bed in both our cottages is occupied. You’re sharing a room with a three year old. I’m sharing a room with Matt.”
She couldn’t get air into her lungs and her heart thudded wildly against her ribs. She opened her mouth to tell him that she was very good at solving problems when she heard a little voice calling, “Auntie Kywa!”
She turned to see Emily appear on the path through the poplar trees edging the beach. “Shit,” she muttered under her breath, but she plastered on a smile and reached for her niece as she hurtled toward her .
If you'd like to win a download of Faceoff, leave a comment here! I will draw a winner Saturday afternoon.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
This week I had to make a tough decision with respect to my writing career. It was something I gave a lot of thought to over the last few months. I talked to writer friends about it, weighed the pros and cons, talked to my husband. It was difficult but it had to be done. And I did it. I'm a little sad but I'm also ready to move on, feeling more free and at peace with it.
Music is powerful for me, especially when a song speaks to me, and I listened to this song over and over this week. It really lifted me up. Sadly I could not find this version on YouTube, only a weird distorted version. Some of the lyrics:
Took a long hard look, at my life.
Lost my way, well I was fighting the time.
A big black cloud, stormy sky.
Followed me, while I was living a lie.
So heartless, so selfish, so in darkness, when all your nights are
You're running outta hope.
But I found the strength inside to see, found the better part of me,
And I'll never let it go.
I've come a long, long way,
Made a lot of mistakes,
But I'm breathin, breathin, that's right and I mean it, mean it.
This time I'm a little run down, I've been living out loud.
I could beat it, beat it, that's right, 'cause I'm feelin, feelin,
I love Hedley!!
And in other news.... The UP part of the roller coaster... I have a new sale to Samhain Publishing! Sweet Deal will be out in the spring of 2012! Stay tuned for details (Yes I know it's a far far away. But I do have three releases between now and then, including one next week- Friday!)