Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Oh, be still my heart! That cover!

There are very few times a book cover leaves me speechless. But this time, I was not only without words, my eyes glazed over with lust and my heart sped up, bouncing with joy. Wow. Just…wow.

Quite frankly, if I saw this cover in a bookstore, I would stop in my tracks, take a few steps back, and grab the book off the shelf. I am speaking of the cover for my latest novella, A Touchdown To Remember, part of Extasy Books’ 2017 Stocking Stuffing series. Although a generic cover is used for the entire series, the gorgeous half-clothed man donning a Santa hat, a man with a bit of stubble, dark hair, and incredible blue eyes, made my imagination take flight. And trust me, at my age, that rarely happens. 

When I showed the cover to a college friend, she said, “That looks like…”  My sister started to laugh and said “That’s a younger version of …”  Okay, I guess that means I have “a type.”  I have known some incredibly handsome men in my life, some of them actors, others influential professionals. And yes, some of them bear a slight resemblance to the cover model—at least when they were much younger.  So my outburst of lust was most likely triggered by some darn good memories. It has been a long time since I was influences more by form rather than substance.  But this guy, wow.  Let me say it again, WOW.

If I saw that cover in a bookstore, I would buy the book merely to keep the cover under my pillow to feed my fantasies as I drift off into dreamland.  While I realize my enthusiasm for a cover model is going to cause concern among some of my man friends, let me make this clear. My reaction to that cover is not only normal, it is an indication that the cover designer knew exactly what she was doing.

Book covers are supposed to feed your fantasies, stir up sensual memories, capture your interest, and compel you to buy the book.  There are all sorts of covers, of course, but romance publishers in particular excel in creating covers that promise heart-throbbing, panty-wetting tales. You know the covers. Hunky bare-chested males bearing six packs, sometimes enticingly entwined with equally beautiful females, males, beasts, or aliens. I would go as far as to suggest that sometimes it is the covers, not the stories, that sell the book.  Because the cover sells the fantasy.

Unfortunately, I am firmly rooted in reality.  If I met that gorgeous cover model in real life now, I just know I would make a fool out of myself. Because sadly, I am now old enough to be his mother.  But I am not too old to remember what it was like to be swept away by lust, by the new relationship energy, that exquisite feeling of attraction. 

So after someone wiped the drool off of my mouth, I would blush and I would stutter, and I imagine, tall, dark, and handsome would smile knowingly, even arrogantly, and walk away. The dude makes a living off posing for romance books covers, after all. He is well aware of the effect he has on others.

So here’s to the cover designer at eXtasy Books for capturing my imagination and stirring my middle-aged heart, for a few moments at least. Thank you!







Thursday, November 2, 2017

Love redeemed: Sometimes it's best reserved for fiction

As a writer of romance, I thrive on emotion:  The good, the happy, the bad, the devastated. I want my readers to laugh, cry, smile, scowl, and even, jump for joy or shake with anger. Just not in the same story or with the same character.

I think love can be a step away from euphoria or lead to overwhelming pain. So I do not follow a singular path.  I permit my characters to lead me on a journey of discovery or closure or redemption throughout my books. That is why I write collections of short stories. I want each to tug on different emotions and leave you wanting more. And hopefully, that will encourage you to continue on to the next story.

Some of my stories are inspired by actual events--in my life or others--or by a singular occurrence, such as a walk in the rain or a phone call.  I never know what will cause my imagination to take flight, but when it does, I make sure to get it down on paper.

For example, I recently completed, “The one who got away.” It is the last short story in Kinky Briefs, Thrice. That story was triggered by the sighting of a familiar name in a news story. It was a name I had buried in my subconscious because it held such sadness for me. It was also a name I had not seen or heard in a very long time. The name belonged to the first man I had loved as an adult. We had an all-consuming love affair that ended tragically, in fact, it almost destroyed me. My heart was shattered and I thought I would never recover.   

The name sighting spurred a lot of memories and I began to wonder how I would react if that man suddenly reappeared in my life, begging for a second chance, seeking redemption. As I often do when troubled, I began to write.  This time my characters guided me toward a hopeful outcome. When I finished, I was in tears.

Unfortunately, that was not the outcome I had personally hoped for. You see, if that man reappeared in my life now, I would most likely yell and scream and say all the words I had left unsaid. Then I would dissolve into tears and order him out of my home. I would banish him from my life forever.  He was someone I had trusted unconditionally and he betrayed me in the worst of ways.  I know now—as I knew then--that I would never be able to trust him again. And there was nothing he could say or do that would change that.

Thankfully, the protagonist in my story did not have the same problem. “The one who got away” contains all of my feelings of hurt and betrayal, and even reveals the treacherous journey that followed.  However, I permitted my protagonist to forgive and open her heart to a second chance because I believe in love. I know anything is possible, even if it is not possible for me.

Some wounds are just too deep.