Christian Romance Author Liz Isaacson: January 2015

Monday, January 26, 2015

Getting the Writing Done

So as someone who has a full-time job outside the home, finding time to write has been a challenge. I find myself not wanting to get started unless I have a large chunk of time to devote, but that almost never happens.

I also find myself doing "mindless" things as I gear up to write. Things like researching literary agents or publishers, reading Facebook, visiting blogs, or watching those funny YouTube videos my daughter shows me. You know the ones I'm talking about. :)

Anyway, I can waste a good 30 minutes doing all that, and then the hour I had for writing is halved. I need to be better about that, but sometimes I need that half hour to decompress before I can think about my book.

I've learned that I get the most done at the very end of the day, after everyone else has gone to bed and all the dishes are done. I feel decompressed enough from work, and I'm finally ready to work. It's hard to stay up too late, though, but I'm committed to writing as often as possible.

I know I won't be able to write every day, but I'm okay with that. I've been writing for long enough to know that there are seasons to it.

So there you have it. I'm trying to get the writing done, along with everything else. It's a work-in-progress, but I'm okay with that.

How do you get the writing done?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What Should I Be Reading?

I just got Julie Coulter Bellon's ALL FALL DOWN, and I'm looking forward to reading it. However, I feel like most of the romance I've read is now "old." I want to read something that's being published right now.

Since I'll be gearing up to submit and/or query my romance soon (hopefully by the summer!), I want to know what's getting published right now. Not what was hot in 2013 or 2014.

I'm a clean romance reader. I like there to be romantic tension and kissing, but I'm not really into fully realized sex scenes.

Got any recommendations of new titles that fit this bill? Let me know!

Monday, January 19, 2015

One of my Favorite Tropes: Enemies to Lovers

One of my favorite tropes in romance is enemies to lovers. I think it might be the number one trope for a lot of readers too. (Note to self: write a romance with this trope! I haven't actually tried it yet.)

There's just something hilarious and romantic about the rivals falling for each other. I think my favorite part of this trope though, is the sacrifices the hero and heroine make in order to be together. The things they give up to be with the other one. 

Because if they're both going after the same account at work, or looking to buy the same house, or trying to both win the same competition, one of them is always going to lose. How they lose -- and why they choose to do so -- is terribly romantic. 

If it's done right.

Maybe that's why I haven't tried this trope yet. I think it is tricky to get just right, and I think it takes a certain kind of character. Ones I just haven't written yet. 

What's your favorite romance trope? Do you like enemies to lovers as much as I do? 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Falling For Her Fiance by Cindi Madsen

I love a good contemporary romance--obviously! It's what I write--and one of my favorite novels is FALLING FOR HER FIANCE by Cindi Madsen. This book's been out for a while, but I find myself going back to it all the time.

About FALLING FOR HER FIANCE: Danielle and Wes have been best friends since college, so when Wes needs a date for his sister’s wedding and Dani needs a partner for her company’s retreat, they devise the perfect plan: a fake engagement to get through both events unscathed. Adrenaline-junkie Wes can prove to both his ex and his family that he’s well and truly moved on, and serious-minded Dani can prove to her boss that she’s worthy of the promotion he seems to only want to give to a family-oriented employee. But amid the fake swoons, fake kisses, and forced proximity, neither expects the very real feelings that develop. There’s nothing more dangerous than falling for your best friend…but what if the landing isn't worth the fall?

First, this is a clean romance, and that automatically makes it valuable to me. Second, I really liked Dani's plight. I think I always sympathize with a character who is working hard to get what they want. And that's Dani. She's concerned about doing a good job and being reliable.

Wes is also likeable, and I hadn't read a book with a helicopter pilot before. So this felt fresh, with a different kind of hero than the same old billionaire's and rock stars.

The romance develops smoothly, and by the end, I really wanted them to be together! And that's the mark of a well-done romance novel. I hope you'll give it a try if you haven't yet!

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Organization of Writing Romance

I wasn't always a romance writer. I've dabbled in a few other genres before I finally settled into straight romance. My speculative fiction always had elements of romance, but when I made the switch to pure romance, I realized I had a lot to learn.

A lot!

First, romance readers have specific requirements for the stories they love. A certain type of hero. A plot that is focused on the romance. This was something that was so far from what I'd been doing previously. In a fantasy novel, the focus is on the plot--the good prince overcoming the evil queen. There might be a princess that catches the prince's eye. There might even be some kissing. But the romance is NOT the core of the novel.

To make the romance the focus took some practice for me. I kept trying to introduce other plot elements, and each time, I failed on creating a romance novel that a romance reader would actually like.

Back to the drawing board.

I wrote two or three romances before I started figuring out how to organize the series of events in my novel. I did quite a bit of research also, using tools like Blake Snyder's Save the Cat beat sheets and reading blogs.

I've been writing for a while. I know how to draft, create characters, edit and revise. But I didn't know how to make the romance the focus of the entire novel!

I've written several more romances now, and I think I'm finally getting a grip on the specific points that need to be hit in a romance. Here's what I've come up with, after reading on several prominent romance blogs, talking to my romance-writing friends, and cobbling together my own writing experience.

1. Hero/heroine meet -- this should happen in the first chapter. A "meet cute" is a popular way to get the characters on the page together.
2. Get to know you -- the characters get to know each other, and the reader learns about the hero and heroines pasts, their flaws, etc. The characters don't know about the other's flaws yet.
3. External forces that require the hero and heroine to be together. There's internal forces too.
4. External forces that are keeping the hero and heroine apart. There's internal forces at play here too. Everyone in romance wants to see both the hero and heroine overcome their internal weaknesses.
5. False high -- this usually happens at the midpoint. I like to put a kiss right in the middle of the book. It's my false high.
6. Flaws exposed. Through a series of events, both the hero and heroine are made away of the other's flaws. They further strengthen their internal forces that are keeping them apart.
7. Black moment -- This is also called the dark night of the soul, and it's when the break-up happens. There's always something that happens that forces both characters to admit that their relationship CAN'T work. But the reason it can't work? It's usually something internal they need to get over, change, and admit that the way they've been living/thinking/feeling is flawed.
8. Grand gesture -- the character with the biggest flaw, and the most to lose, has to make the grand gesture to get the other one back.
9. Happily Ever After -- I love the HEA moment! It's the fairy tale we all dream about, isn't it? Yes, it is!

How do you organize your romance novels? I'm still learning, so I'll take any tips and hints I can get.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Book Spotlight: Hope At Dawn by Stacy Henrie

I am a lover of all things romance, and historical romance has recently taken a hold of my heart. One of the first historical romances I read was HOPE AT DAWN by Stacy Henrie.



With her brothers away fighting the Great War overseas, Livy Campbell desperately wants to help her family. Her chance comes when she meets a handsome stranger who lands her a job as a teacher in a place far from her parents' farm. But the war casts a long shadow over the German-American town that Livy now calls home-and the darkness will test everything she thought she knew about family and love . . .

More than anything, Friedrick Wagner wants to be part of his adopted country's struggle for peace. But when the bitter animosity between Germans and Americans soon turns citizens against newcomers, friend against friend, he will do whatever it takes to protect Livy from the hysteria that grips their town. As tragedy-and dark secrets from the past-threaten their future, Friedrick and Livy have one chance to stand up for what's right . . . and one chance to fight for their love.

This is a tale of magic and romance that took place right here in our country. I found Livy's struggles to be realistic and delightful. She was a character that I could connect to, though hundreds of years separated us.

And Friedrick provides insight into what it was like for German-Americans during World War I. I enjoyed his family, and especially the tenderness he felt for Livy.

I'd highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a good romance. It's clean, and inspirational, both of which are important to me.

Five stars!

I can't wait to get the next book, Hope Rising.

What have you read that I need to put on my list?

Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Year, A New Blog

It's 2015, and this year I've decided to do something I haven't done before. Blog. I've been a writer for several years now, mostly dabbling in technical things and personal histories. A few years ago, I started writing romance novels. I haven't done much with them, other than enjoy the characters myself, attend a few writing conferences, and dream big.

But 2015 is the Year of the Dream!

I'm going to do more with my writing this year. I'm going to polish it, and submit it, and see if I can get it published.

I know a lot of you have already done this. I'm friends with writers who have as well. I'm still learning a lot of things about the publishing industry, and I hope that as I work with a new goal in mind, this year will bring awesome things!

What do you want to work toward in 2015?

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