On love and redemption.

The other day, on social media, I asked my friends what initially drew them to romance as a genre. The variety of answers was interesting and informative. One response caught my eye, in particular, and has caused me to think a lot about what that person said. This reader said she was not a fan of today’s romance and one of the reasons was because these romances have strayed from the theme of love, and feature the theme of redemption far too often.

This blew me away. I think every single one of my books, on some level, has dealt with redemption.

Now, of course, this reader is perfectly entitled to read whatever she likes, as are the rest of us. However, I can’t help thinking love and redemption are linked. I believe the reason so many of us read and write romance is because we want to see those characters redeemed. Reborn, if you will, through the healing power of love.

This is not to say every romance character has to have major life issues, although I do like writing them that way, probably because I’ve had major life issues. I’m sure there are romances out there that feature characters who are perfectly content and well-adjusted. People who have a plan. I just don’t necessarily identify with those people. Me, the woman who started writing romance in her 30’s, after careening through a variety of careers? Yeah, probably not. It took me some time to figure out my plan.

Shouldn’t our characters also have wounds? If you read any writing manual, experts will always tell you characters needs wounds. They need flaws and they need to put their feet in their mouths from time to time. They must make mistakes in order to be interesting.

Our wounds shape us and drive us. I know my own wounds have shaped me. If I hadn’t witnessed my father’s gambling addiction, if I hadn’t seen my parents separate when I was seven, if I hadn’t lost beloved family members, I wouldn’t be the person I am. I am sure I still make mistakes because of my wounds. I have tried to rise above them, but do they still compel me to see the world through a particular filter? Of course.

I suppose it’s because of my own mistakes that I want to see my characters redeemed. I try to give them experiences and secrets that shape them, hoping my readers will identify.

I don’t ever want to simply hand that HEA over to my characters. I want them to fight for it. I want them to develop as people, and to realize through finding love that their wounds don’t have to color their world anymore.

In other words, I want them to be redeemed.

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Sweating the small stuff. #amwriting.

Years ago, I had a colleague who often gave me pause. She crosses my mind still, even though it’s been some time since I’ve seen her. Why?

Because the way she approached things at work had a big effect on me, and I still feel that effect from time to time, in my library job and in my writing. What could this person possibly have done or said to make such a lasting impression?

She sweated the small stuff. Almost constantly.

We all know the old adage, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” It’s how I’ve always tried to live.  In other words, don’t worry about the little things. In my experience, many of those little things are often ones we can’t help. We might work harder or toil for longer hours or provide feedback to decision makers, but it doesn’t mean those little things that vex us will change.

When I met this former co-worker, I realized she was the sort who thrived on conflict. Every issue was blown up, and every conversation became a debate. I would walk away from our encounters completely exhausted and deflated. I began to dread running into her because there was never anything good to say about the day.

Her approach began to filter into my own consciousness. I began to, well, sweat the small stuff. It didn’t make me a better person. It certainly didn’t make me a happier person, or even a more efficient employee. It just made me miserable.

I had to learn how to tactfully extricate myself from those conversations. A few times, I even gently confronted her and suggested there might be other ways of looking at things.

But, as we all know, we can’t change other people, and certainly not if that person is receiving some sort of emotional payoff for acting a certain way.

However, I could change my approach and did.

Every so often, while writing, I sweat the small stuff as well. I torture myself with endless questions and criticisms. Very often, this sort of inner dialogue has stopped me from finished a manuscript. There’s really no point. I’ve learned the best thing I can do is finish the story, take a good breather and then give myself permission to analyze some of those little problems.

I had to remove that colleague from my consciousness and I fight every day to remove her from my writing as well. She shouldn’t have that effect on my writing, but her negativity certainly had an effect on me. As artists and creators, we must struggle against enough negativity as it is. We shouldn’t be adding our own voices to that chorus.

The small stuff will always be there and there will always be someone who feels the need to sweat over it.

I refuse to be that person.

Lured by the paranormal.

If you’ve been followed my work over the past year or two, you’ll know I’ve been writing a lot of contemporary romance. I love it and adore fleshing out characters who feel “real” and human. Humans are interesting, right? Our flaws make it so.

However, I also love the escapism of the paranormal/fantasy world. My first love is paranormal romance and I always knew I’d return to it. After completing my Gemini Island Shifters series, though, I needed a break. A palate cleanser, if you will.

Lately, I’ve been feeling the lure of the paranormal once again. Recently, I watched “Myths and Monsters” on Netflix and my brain has been racing with possibilities! The series is a good one and explores common themes in folklore and myth…my cup of tea, in other words. I keep returning to some of the ideas discussed in the series. Weird and wonderful characters have been haunting my dreams, hiding in my periphery vision, daring me to turn my head and acknowledge them.

In other words, I’m feeling excited, and it’s getting hard to contain.

Do I have any details yet? Not too many. I’m starting to flesh out a new series, building conflicts and such. My main characters will be a trio of human sisters. There will be monsters, probably some element from myth. There will be a unique love story in each book. And, of course, there will be great evil. Beyond that, I can’t share too much.

I’m not sure what it is about paranormal literature that keeps drawing me back. I think the escapism is a big part but it strikes deeper than pure diversion. I’ve always been curious about the afterlife and other worlds. Writing about them allows me to explore that curiosity. I like to believe there is something “other” out there. The thought disturbs me but also brings great comfort.

I suppose I have some writing to do. It’s time for me to look over my shoulder and say “hello” to the creatures that haunt me.

Stay tuned!

Marianne Rice. At First Blush.

Book Title: At First Blush

Series: A Well Paired Novel
Genre: Romantic Women’s Fiction
Date of release: 1/23/2018

Book Blurb:

Alexis Le Blanc enjoys her simple life in Crystal Cove, Maine. After taking a chance on romance and getting rejected, she has given up on love. Now she devotes all her time to running her family’s winery, Coastal Vines. She wants to keep it small and traditional, but her parents have other ideas—hence why they hire some big-shot marketing executive from Napa Valley to rev up business.

When Benito Martelli shows up in her family’s tasting room, she’s more than stunned to discover he’s the man who wined and dined her the night before. Alexis is beyond peeved at his deception in trying to get into her good graces for the sake of making money on her winery. At first, she wants nothing to do with him or his big business ideas, but she’s pleasantly surprised when they come to a compromise, and even more surprised when she gives in to the sparks between them.

Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and Alexis is faced with complications she never could have predicted. Promises and secrets unravel, and she must decide if love and wine are as well paired as she hoped.

 

 BOOK LINKS:

Amazon: http://smarturl.it/s58mzq

iBooks: http://smarturl.it/zeb6r0

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/at-first-blush-3

B&N:https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/at-first-blush-marianne-rice/1127779053;jsessionid=311F147D27BCAF936FDEDA7C95276577.prodny_store02-atgap03?ean=2940155053996

 

AUTHOR LINKS:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mariannericeauthor/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Marianne-Rice/e/B00SICUIRM

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mariannericeauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mariannericeaut

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/MarianneRice

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mariannericeaut

Bookbu: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/marianne-rice

Book + Main: https://bookandmainbites.com/search?q=Marianne%20Rice

Website: http://www.mariannerice.com

BIO:

Marianne Rice writes contemporary romantic fiction set in small New England towns. She loves high heels, reading romance, scarfing down dark chocolate, gulping wine, and Chris Hemsworth. Oh, and her husband and three children. You can follow her all over social media, and keep up to tabs with her latest releases on her website: www.mariannerice.com

EXCERPT:

“You want brutal honesty?”

“That would be nice. For once.”

Ben grabbed the collar of her jacket and jerked her toward him, their faces inches apart. “I want you. In my bed. Underneath me. On top of me. But I also don’t want to hurt you. I’m letting you go because I don’t want to be a selfish bastard. There are things you don’t know…”

“I seem to go for selfish bastards so…” She licked her lips, hoping for one more kiss. Hoping he’d ask her to stay. Hoping he’d let her go.

“You’re too…special.”

“I’m not special.” Alexis lowered her eyes and shook her head. More lies to get her into bed. Only he didn’t want her in his bed. Her mind raced searching for answers, yet she didn’t even know the questions. It was all too much.

The way her heart raced when he was near. The way her legs trembled when his dimple appeared as if just for her. The way her mind went dizzy with longing when his stunning eyes were so intently focused on her.

“See, and then you do that vulnerable thing and I just want to…”

A spark ignited inside. She was not weak. “I’m not vulnerable.” She lifted her gaze to his and studied the intensity in his eyes, the seriousness in his jaw.

“I like that you are, and that you think you aren’t.”

“I think I should go.” She was smart enough and strong enough to walk away before she’d get emotionally attached and have her heart broken.

“I’ll follow you home.”

“When was the last time you drove in the snow?” Ben didn’t reply, his gaze still on her lips. “I didn’t think so. I don’t want to have to haul your ass out of a ditch so stay here. Play on your laptop. Style your hair. Go be sexy. Whatever it is you do at night.”

Alexis frowned when she pulled away from him so easily, and let herself out, driving home in silence and confusion.

Leaving her hot and horny and alone on a cold night, Ben was right about one thing. He was a total selfish bastard.

 

Trust in yourself. Trust in your manuscript. #amwriting.

Lately, in an attempt to stretch out my sore shoulder and neck, I’ve been doing yoga.  A colleague told me about “Yoga With Adriene” on YouTube and it’s really been helping.

One of the lessons Adriene imparts is to trust. Trust that you are doing what you need to be doing. Trust that there’s a reason you are on this journey.

The same can be said for our manuscripts.

Very often, usually once I reach the dreaded middle part of the book, I begin to doubt. Did I plot with enough detail? Should I have plotted less? Are my conflicts genuine? That sort of stuff. I try to write through it, but the stress is real. It has even stalled me at times.

But here’s the thing. It always works out.

No matter how a plot may derail, no matter if I suddenly decide I hate all my characters and they need to endure savage torments to appease my anger, it always works out. I try to trust I’m on this journey for a reason.

That trust usually brings about one of two outcomes. Outcome one? I finish the book.

Outcome two? I realize there’s a problem with the book.

Either way, I can work with it. Obviously, outcome one is the preferred one, but outcome two isn’t so bad. We want to recognize the problems with our stories, right? Otherwise, how else can we fix them?

Any time I have doubted myself or my manuscript, I enter a period of uncertainty. I may have to step away from my book for a while to clear my head. However, every time I trust that I’m supposed to be writing and that I’m supposed to be telling this story, I manage to work out the kinks. Sometimes it takes a while and that’s okay. I firmly believe you can’t rush a book.

With every book I’ve written, I always reach a “Eureka” moment. Suddenly, I can breathe again and everything makes sense. I know I get to that place because of my sense of trust. It guides me and it helps me correct my mistakes. I try to take that trust into every aspect of my life, and when I can, I’m a lot happier.

I trust I am on the right path. I trust my decisions will result in lessons I need to learn.

I trust in myself and in my manuscript.

 

The Practice of Learning Dialogue

Love this post on dialogue from Kimberly Bell. I hope you will too!

Romance Writers Chat

This coming Sunday, January 15th we’re doing a chat all about dialogue, and our co-host, Kimberly Bell, has lots to share about her process of learning to write authentic conversation.

Dialogue

I get a lot of compliments on my dialogue. In fact, some of the best early advice I got in my career was that my dialogue was my strength, so I should let it shine. But why is it a strength? How? What, exactly, do I do?

I don’t know.

I wish I had a better answer than that. What I do have are some aspects of my life that I think have contributed.

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A sneak peek at “Al Dente.”

As I mentioned not long ago, my short story “Al Dente” was recently accepted to be part of the sexy anthology, Craving: One Night, coming to Crave Publishing this spring.

I couldn’t resist giving you a sneak peek. My hero is a famous Italian chef by the name of Matteo Rinaldi and my heroine is a Toronto food blogger named Ruby Zhang. The story begins with Ruby winning tickets to be part of a private couple’s cooking class with Chef Matteo.

Only she loses the other half of her couple right before the event.

Please enjoy this excerpt!

“Al Dente”

It wasn’t so much that her boyfriend had taken dick pics.

It was more the fact he’d sent them to the entire internet.

Not the entire internet, of course, Ruby Zhang corrected herself. Just about half of it. The female half.

At least she assumed Steve hadn’t sent photos of “Moose” to the male half. If he had, that opened up a whole can of worms she wasn’t prepared to confront. It was bad enough knowing he’d cheated.

“I didn’t cheat, babe, I swear.” Steve had tried to justify his actions once discovered. “You went away for the weekend with your sisters and I drank too much. I was just bored one night. Those women meant nothing to me.”

“Wow,” she’d countered. “You actually think that qualifies as an excuse.”

He might as well have cheated and probably had. It was the only reasonable assumption, although she hadn’t stuck around long enough to ascertain the particulars.

Either way, he’d unleashed Moose. That was his pet name for his dick, given to him by an ex because of its admirable dimensions. He’d liked it so much he’d kept it and used it as much as possible. At first, Ruby had thought it was cute. Now, it made her want to vomit.

Eighteen months with a man who likened himself to a huge mammal known for its annoying moans and inability to sustain its energy after rutting.

Yup, that was Steve in a nutshell.

Still, they’d talked marriage … that is, they’d talked about it being a possibility one day. Those plans were over. Less than two weeks later, Ruby was still reeling.

However, life would have to go on.

That was why she now stood in front of Toronto’s Ristorante Al Dente. Although it was Valentine’s Day evening, the restaurant was closed to the public for a special event. And not just any special event.

Months ago, Ruby had entered a draw to win a private couple’s cooking class with famed Italian chef Matteo Rinaldi. As a food blogger, Ruby had followed Rinaldi’s career and tried many of the recipes featured in his popular cookbooks. In fact, she owned the entire collection of books and most of the pages were dog-eared and covered in splotches of sauce because they were such a treasured feature in her kitchen. The handsome chef wasn’t just an author, though. He’d hosted numerous cooking specials on TV and Ruby had been glued to every single one.

Matteo Rinaldi might possess some incredible knife skills but he was also so gorgeous most soap opera actors would hurl themselves over the nearest cliff out of insecurity.

Meeting the chef would be a dream come true.

Learning to cook with his instruction would be heaven.

When she won the tickets, she’d been over the moon, despite Steve’s indifference. When she broke up with Steve, she’d contemplated giving the tickets to some friends. After all, it was supposed to be a couple’s cooking class and she was no longer part of a couple.

Ruby had waffled for all of five minutes. After a short period of wallowing, she’d cuddled her aging pet rabbit Shania and said, “Fuck that shit.”

Shania always helped her channel her inner badass. The rabbit was the equivalent of one hundred human years old and had that effect on people.

Only now, standing in front of Al Dente on a cold February night, Ruby was losing her courage. What would Chef Matteo say? On TV, he seemed like a nice man but what if he was haughty and disparaging in real life? Ruby had met a lot of chefs in her line of work. They weren’t always known for their humility.

The wind whipped through her, compelling her to make a decision. She took a deep breath.

Resolved, she grabbed the door handle and walked inside.

*****

Like the excerpt? Don’t forget my latest contemporary romance A Good Man, Handymen 1, is currently available. Click here for more!