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“Is the baby mine?” Could you forgive this question?

In my latest release, Annabelle’s Dilemma, Annabelle’s husband is angry when she announces that she’s pregnant. He’d seen her flirting with her cousin’s sexy husband, and he blurts out this question: “Is the baby mine?” Annabelle blows up and throws him out of their house.

AnnabellesDilemma_800x1200 http://amzn.to/1Wqu7wf

I’ll let you read the book to learn whether Annabelle forgives him. But my question to my women readers is whether this ever happened to you?

Given that most women of child-bearing age these days grew up with abortions being legal and relative access to birth control, unintended pregnancies from an affair can be avoided. A 2002 study estimates that half of married men and women indulged in at least one extra-marital affair during their marriage. It’s not something that folks are willing to admit, I expect. Therefore, the data are likely fraught with self-reporting errors. And I couldn’t begin to trust the data on the number of children born from such liaisons. When a woman is married, any children are legally treated as being fathered by her husband.

All that aside, it seems to me that when such a question is aired, there is a lot of work to be done to restore trust, if it’s even possible. When I was married to my children’s father (he’s deceased now), I discovered that he’d told his girlfriend that our third child wasn’t his. What else do you say in the circumstances? Needless to say, the marriage was over. My son learned this and never forgave him.

Writing romantic fiction gives an author the opportunity to posit different scenarios for life events. What would you do?

Aren’t We Sick of These Five Phrases? I am!

These are the overused, trite, and Im-so-sick-of-them phrases. See if this is true for you, too.

1. Win-Win Don’t know the etiology of this, but it sucks.

2. Happy Holidays What the hell is wrong with Merry Christmas? This is a politically correct solution that is insufficient.

3. What’s in Your Wallet? These commercials have outlived their usefulness. Doesn’t the company have enough funds to come up with a new one? I hate it.

4. Ground Zero I’m ready to shoot folks who apply this designation to all kinds of stuff. It demeans the losses of 9-11 and should be eliminated for good.

5. ___gate This one is the worst! Watergate was 44 years ago–1972. And we still continue — delfategate was the latest. Enough already. I bet most folks don’t even know what Watergate was. Let’s bury it.

Thanks for listening to my rant — AnnabellesDilemma_800x1200
And I have a new book out. It’s available on Amazon http://amzn.to/1paxZGH
Annabelle is a quilter and owns a fabric shop where she teaches quilting. Her best customer is an Uptown New Orleans matron who gripes and complains about everything. Among Annabelle’s many dilemmas, she’s pregnant and her husband asked “Is it mine?” Her cousin accused her of sleeping with her husband. Next, her cousin is found dead and the police suspect Annabelle. And she’s being stalked by a crazy relative of a young woman accused of drowning her newborn. What else could go wrong? You’ll have to read it to find out. (-: Isn’t this a great cover.

And here’s one more: ‘Have a nice day’

New Pub: The Taste of Her

December 3 marks the launch of my latest publication. It’s out on Amazon for $2.99.

The Taste of Her is a romantic suspense, set in New Orleans. It is the story of Margaret Angelo, a New Orleans homicide detective. Despite the sexism of the NOPD, she works to catch a serial killer, the Slasher, who kidnaps women, assaults them, and gets off on licking their bodies before he kills them.

Although devoted to her job, Margaret longs for a life partner. She reconnects with a high school acquaintance, Jim, whom she hires to paint her house. They begin a relationship, but Margaret is kidnapped by the Slasher and faces certain death. The other detectives manage to rescue her, but the Slasher escapes their trap. He is losing control and hunts Margaret down, determined to finish her. With Jim’s support, can she escape this mad man?

 

 

TheTasteOfHer600

 

Please let me know if you like it.

 

 

The Jury Scandal is out on Amazon

I’m so excited to announce that this romantic suspense is out now on Amazon ($2.99). I hope all of you buy it, read it, and enjoy it. A good review on Amazon would be nice, too.  http://amzn.to/1qptEcT

This is the blurb:

A divorced professor, Marilise, struggles with an unintended pregnancy from a foolish one-night stand. When her high school sweetheart, Tommy, shows up as a student in her class, she’s scared to get involved. He’s a short-tempered homicide detective working on a case where a sportscaster is accused of shooting his ex-wife. Tommy is attracted to the new Marilise.

She attends the sportscaster’s trial to see Tommy testify. In the bathroom on a break, she overhears a thug threaten a woman juror to vote not guilty. She tells the judge and becomes a target and a risk to a local politician’s plans. Tommy and Marilise rekindle their relationship while he attempts to protect her. Can their new relationship survive the threats and will he accept her pregnancy?

 

TheJuryScandal

I’ve been working on this story since 2007, maybe? It was a finalist in the RWA chapter Daphne Du Maurier Contest for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, sponsored by the Kiss of Death in 2013. The mad dash to get it out this week involved doing the final edits last Sunday afternoon. But we got it done, and the owner/editor, Debby Gilbert, at Soul Mate Publishing did an amazing job.

Please, tell me what you think of the cover and the story.

The Origin of my Next Publication

The Taste of Her is a romantic suspense contracted with Soul Mate Publishing and coming out sometime this year. I am very pleased about this. When I shared the good news with friends, sometimes they’d ask me how I come up with my stories.

The Taste of Her was the easiest plot to design. Briefly it’s about a serial killer who delights in licking women’s bodies before he kills them.​ ​The homicide detective on the case who’s close to identifying him is herself kidnapped. You know romance stories have to have a happy ending, so I don’t need to go into any more detail here.

The origin of this story involves a practice I suspect many writers employ. I have a manilla folder (when I can find it) with the label “Story Ideas.” I’d done as much as I could on The Third Wife, a historical romance that chronicles a Seventeenth-Century witch who is befriended by a talking cat. I’ve worked on that story for a couple of years, and I needed to put it aside, let it rest, and start something new.

Tidying up my very messy desk one morning, I found the “Story Ideas” folder. Oh, great, I thought. Just what I need–a collection of ideas I’d saved. I got myself a fresh cup of tea and settled down to peruse the scrawled notes I anticipated were in the folder. I laughed when I opened the folder because there was just one yellow sticky inside. On the sticky, I’d written or copied a line from somebody’s work that I liked. I make all kinds of notes like this, copying good phrases, descriptions, and examples that I use to trigger my own writing. I don’t use any of them verbatim, just as triggers.

The note said: He enjoyed the taste of her skin. That was it. I stared at the note, and in a flash the entire plot of my story emerged. I envisioned a perverted serial killer who licked drugged women’s breasts just before he killed them. I could see a female homicide detective who struggled with sexist assholes in the homicide bureau and her over-bearing retired cop father. She fought all of them to be put in charge of a task force to catch the killer. She went undercover in the bar from which several of the victims had been abducted. And then she’s kidnapped in front of her own home. Etc etc etc.

All the pieces were there. I grabbed a yellow pad and jerked out my story structure notes from Michael Hague’s workshop I’d attended at the Romance Writers Convention in NYC three years ago (http://www.storymastery.com/). Within thirty to forty-five minutes I’d scribbled out the entire plot. Writing it took a little longer, but I had the entire framework. This was the first manuscript where I resisted my tendency to edit extensively as I write. I tried hard to just get it down on the page. When I finished, I found a fellow writer from my RWA chapter who was willing to read it for me.

I will acknowledge her in the publication because she gave me six single-spaced pages of notes and suggestions that were golden. I did a thorough revision based on her comments and sent it off to Debby Gilbert, the publisher at Soul Mate who’d contracted The Red Halter Top, my first fiction publication. Debby replied within a couple of weeks, sending me a contract. So stay tuned; I’ll promote this one when it’s out on Amazon. In the meantime, check out The Red Halter Top. Link is to the right on this page. It’s a novella, straight sexy romance. Give it a good review if you like it. If you don’t, just tell me. (-:

How do you name your characters?

I began today with a picture of a medieval structure in Santa Margarita in northern Italy. My husband and I were on a cruise last fall, and I particularly wanted to see Italy since I have written an historical romance set in 17th Century Italy. IMG_0010 This fortress stood overlooking the harbor and the stone matched my descriptions in the manuscript. I struggled in writing this, however, because I needed both Italian names and ones used in the 17th Century.

I discovered that choosing names for your fiction characters can be challenging. (and some writers are saying “Duh!” ) Knowing this, I’ve still gotten stuck on names. Now contemporary names for Italian characters wasn’t impossible because I bought a copy of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Charcter Naming Sourcebook. It includes sections for male or female names, including family names, for many different cultures and ethnicities. She also added the meaning of each name and a fourteen-page essay on the ‘Art of Naming.’ But I had to research names appropriate to my time frame as well. I ended up using Aimee, Maria, Portia, Isabella, Santina and Domenica for the women and Henri, Carlo, Piero, Luca and Michel for the men.

In my mystery manuscripts I have used typical North American names and tried to throw in a bit of the New Orleans culture (which was not in Kenyon’s book). We have French, Creole, and Cajun heritages represented in names here, and many have been Anglicized or corrupted, if you prefer.
When I was teaching, students always got a laugh at my Yankee-based attempts to pronounce local first and last names. I grew up in Baltimore, and that makes you a Yankee in the deep south.
We have locals with last names like Roux, pronounced “Roo,” and Boute, pronounced “Boo-Tee.” and of course, Bourgeois, but you probably know that one. How about Gautreaux? It’s pronounced “Go-trow.” I won’t even try Troulliet or Troxclair. Then you can throw in a significant contingent of Vietnamese. It became impossible.

One thing I observed in reading other writers’ manuscripts was that names should be distinct. I recall one writer who gave all the male characters first names beginning with ‘J.’ I couldn’t keep them straight–Jason, Jared, Jack, Jeff, Joshua. It was very confusing, and I think she was persuaded to change them.
Another warning is referring to the same character with multiple names, such as using a man’s first name, his last name only (common in jobs, sports, etc), and then throw in a nickname. The reader loses track of who the writer is referring to.
Obviously, your character’s name have to be considered carefully. Women’s names in romance tend to be softer and regionally appropriate. Yet, a story set in Chicago would be fun with a woman named Dixie or Billie Jo or even Bobbie Mae. Hero’s names should be strong and masculine, although a hero named Kyle or Bruce could be fun, too.

When I’m really been stuck, I’ve taken the New Orleans phone book, blindly picked a page, and stuck my forefinger down. I got some useful, local names that way. My hero in the current manuscript, at this point, at least, is named Jim Oliver, and the heroine is Margaret Angelo. She’s a homicide detective and hates to be called Maggie, which the other cops do to piss her off.

If you’re a writer, tell me how you decide on names for your characters. I’m always interested in unique ways to make these important decisions.

Red Letter Day-First Publication

Today is the DAY. My novella, THE RED HALTER TOP, is out – available on Amazon. Whoopee, Dancing and Singing. Red Halter Top 5 final copy 72 DPI
In the meantime, Spring is almost over in New Orleans. Azalea bushes are finished and returning to big, boring bushes that now need to be trimmed. The one overhanging my driveway especially.
French Quarter Fest starts tomorrow–a three-day food, music and drinking festival on the streets of the Quarter. Here’s a link, if you’re interested: http://www.fqfi.org/frenchquarterfest/ But the bad news is that strong thunderstorms and rain are predicted for this afternoon and into tomorrow. Bummer.
The biggest Spring festival is Jazz Fest – http://www.nojazzfest.com/ This is a ten-day long outdoor festival held at the Fair Grounds, a race track about five blocks from my house. I used to live even closer, and these two weekends tie up the parking, congest the traffic, and from my porch I can hear the sounds of the festival, but not any one musician. There are dozens of stages, big star performers, and it seems like hundreds of food booths and juried crafts for sale. You can’t just show up and try to sell your handicrafts or food. You have to submit samples for their approval. Hopefully, the weather will be better for Jazz Fest. But except for shutting down the huge music stages with all the electrical sound equipment, thunderstorms don’t seem to deter the crowds. See more details here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Orleans_Jazz_%26_Heritage_Festival . Besides the threats of thunderstorms, the other warning about Jazz Fest is that by the end of April, we’re into summertime. It’s very hot and humid.
So after promoting my novella and promoting New Orleans, I am happy to report that I started a new story as soon as I finished that blog about what to do next. https://aliceakemp.com/2013/03/26/how-do-you-decide/. I opened a folder I’d set up labeled “New Ideas” and guess what I found inside? I laughed out loud. There was only one sticky note with a phrase I’d written down from something I read. The phrase was “He loved the taste of her mouth.” And a whole story opened in front of me – the title: “The Taste of Her” is a murder mystery where the bad guy seeks to lick the women he captures and kills. I’m nearly fifty pages into it and having a great time.

What goes on in the Spring where you live? What are you working on? I’m also finishing a quilt for my husband’s niece. Will post some pictures next time.
Have a beautiful day, and if you decide to buy my book and like it, give me a good review and tell your friends. If you don’t like it, please just tell me. (-: