Writing Romance

February is the month of love and romance. So what better topic could we offer this month besides romance writing? Stay tuned to learn about everything romance…

By Fay Lamb

Not so long ago, if anyone would have asked me if I wrote romance, I’d have say, “Uh-no” in that haughty way that tells someone they consider themselves above all that.

Today, I tell you proudly that I do write romance. The truth is, I was writing it way back then, too. I just didn’t realize it. Romance really does make the world turn. I’m sure if I tried I might come up with one movie or book that is absolutely void of romance, whether it be a simple attraction, a hint of romance, or the story is all about falling in love, but romance, even if it doesn’t play out, is what makes a story memorable.

Yet, writing romance isn’t always as simple as it seems. I’m one of those authors that balk at formula, but I have to tell you, formula works—especially if you’re targeting a publisher that lives or dies by that formula. Actually, the Hallmark channel is enough proof that publishers will thrive on formula romance.

So what is the formula? It’s a simple recipe: Boy meets girl, preferably by the first scene or at least by the end of the first chapter, and certainly no later than the first scene of the second chapter. Boy and girl must share an attraction that will grow into love, but there must be an overriding conflict that keeps them from taking the plunge. In my novel, Charisse, the heroine was always attracted to her hero, even in high school. She just didn’t think he cared for her. They drift apart, and many years later, after they reconnect, the big dope, who did care about her in high school, has done something unforgivable—at least as far as the heroine is concerned. Still, circumstances cause her to work for him. Her cold shoulder toward him due to her anger and also another woman who blatantly desires him, are both roadblocks to their finding happily ever after.

Formula does seem monotonous, though, so there are elements to a story that can make it rise above the others. One thing is character. My friend, June Foster, writes romance where the characters aren’t the golden-haired beauty queens or the blond Adonis of every woman’s dreams. Nope, her delightful stories include a woman who lost a leg, a man who is obese and closing in on being a diabetic. She writes about women who are compelled to buy things and men who struggle with unbecoming issues, and those stories work. Don’t underestimate the idea of a flawed human being as a hero or heroine. Readers like the underdog.

Another angle to take could be humor. In my very formulaic romance, Libby, the poor woman is traumatized by a perceived lack of self-worth while those around her see her shine brightly. Her hero is a man who believes that his past might cause him to hurt her. In the background are two of the worst matchmakers imaginable, and everything they do to keep the hero and heroine together turns into tragic hilarity.

Finally, a little mystery or two might add to the formula. No, I’m not saying get out of the romance genre and write a romantic suspense or a cozy mystery. Simply layer in a question that begs to be answered. Currently, I’m watching an Australian show where they bill the hero as having an “undetermined number of ex-wives.” Every mention of an ex-wife makes the viewer want to know more. This type of question can tantalize readers as well.

Find something unique for each romance, and weave it into the story. Turn monotony into a story with flair, and shout to the world, “I am a writer of romance!”

 Writing Prompt: Look at the photo above. Describe who is giving this gift and who is receiving. Develop a strong character in your description.

Click to tweet: Romance really does make the world turn. But how do you write a love story? Read on. #romance #ValentinesDay


Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories with a Romans 8:28 attitude, reminding readers that God is always in the details. Fay donates 100% of her royalties to Christian charities.

Storms in Serenity is the first book in Fay’s Serenity Key series. Fay’s other series include, Amazing Grace and her novels, Stalking Willow, Better than RevengeEverybody’s Brokenand Frozen Notes. The Ties that Bind Series includes Charisse,Libby, and Hope. Delilah, is coming soon.

Fay’s is also the author of The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Hope by Fay Lamb

I’m thrilled to welcome back to the blog, my friend, author extraordinaire, Fay Lamb. She helped me when I first joined the Scribes critique group as a newbie. I don’t think I could have made it without her constant encouragement. So what’s she up to these days? Let’s see…

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

Fay: My husband and I have lived in Titusville, Florida, our entire lives though we didn’t met until we were in our twenties. We are actually fifth generation Titusvillians and two more generations (our two sons and our six grandchildren) follow us. We’re all still here in this small town where the building of a new bridge is entertainment, and don’t get us started on our new shopping center where everyone provides at least one update a day as to the progress. I think that our citizen’s interest in small-town life is pretty remarkable when you realize that Titusville is the gateway to space, and we have grown up watching rockets and space shuttles blast off and return from outer space. Our parents and grandparents were the generation that made those things happen, and Titusville, through it all, has remained small and neighborly.

My life has consisted of work as a court clerk, a legal secretary/paralegal, a church secretary, and various other jobs, including a stint in a mental hospital—working there, not voluntarily or involuntarily committed. However, at no time since my memory formed can I remember wanting to be anything but an author. School aptitude tests always indicated that I would be either a great librarian or an author. That should have been enough to lock me away, I think. However, every job I have ever undertaken proved good experience for my writing career.

What genre are your books? What draws you to this genre?

Fay: I’ve never adhered to the admonition that writing in more than one genre can be fatal to a career. I do mainly write romance and romantic suspense, yet I do have a couple contemporary fiction novels I’d love to see published one day.

So, what draws me to the genre? True confession: when I first started out writing, you would never have gotten an admission out of me that I wrote romance. No, ma’am, not me. I wrote women’s fiction—oh wait—they told me women’s fiction doesn’t do well in the market. Therefore, I declared myself a writer of contemporary fiction so that someone might find an interest in it. Well, when I finished my first contemporary fiction novel, and edited it and edited it and edited it, one truth became blaringly honest. Anything without romance, no matter how much of a role it plays in a story, is boring. Since that truth struck me upside the head, I have never shied away from admitting I write romance.

So, if you’re trying to think this one out, I have an example for you. It’s a movie I love to loathe. I’ve never had any interest in the story. The mention of any of the sequels cause my eyes to roll back in my head, but my husband loves it, and sometimes I suffer my way through it with him. Think about Rocky’s story. If it had only been about boxing, if he hadn’t fallen in love with Adrienne, would the movie still be the same? Why did Rocky go the distance—what moved him forward? Without romance, the movie ended with him going down and not getting up. In my version of the thing, Rocky would have beaten the crap out of Apollo Creed and gotten the title, hugged Adrienne, lived happily ever after, and there would have been no need for any sequels. Romance, for better for worse, is the reason that movie works and for those **rolling eyes** sequels.

Do you work to an outline or prefer to see where an idea takes you?

Fay: I do prefer to see where an idea takes me. With my novel, Hope, when my publisher gave me my deadline for the release date, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Hope and her hero, Danny, had taken me almost to the very end of the book.
In my current work-in-progress Frozen Notes, I found I’d already written 70,000+ words when I was told of the due date for an autumn release. The difference between Hope and Frozen Notes is that the 70,000+ words need a quite a bit of revision. That can be the hard part about letting your ideas take you where they want to go, but I will admit, that the plot of Frozen Notes holds together. The tweaking I plan to do, though, will make it a much stronger book, conflict-wise.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Fay: I honestly believe that I answer this question in a different way each time it is asked simply because life is constantly changing for us or for those around us that depend upon us.

Currently, what I find the most difficult is sitting at my chair and keeping my bottom firmly placed. This isn’t because of my desire to get up and down and do other things, but at this time in my life, I am dealing with someone with Alzheimer’s, and that person is living in her own story world and pulling those of us who care for her into it with her daily. Therefore, bottom firmly in chair for me for more than thirty minutes at a time is a luxury.

But if you look at my answer to Question 3, you’ll find that God was never surprised by what would be happening in the life of my loved one or how it would affect my life. He’s actually made a way that thirty minutes at a time works for me right now, and I am grateful for that because, though I long for all the time in the world to write, the quenching of that longing will come at a great price, and I’m just not ready to pay that yet.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Fay: Alive and writing, if the Lord so wills.

Thanks for dropping by, Fay!


Hope

Hope Astor is literally a starving artist, living off the good graces of her friends as she seeks help for the fatigue that has plagued her for over a month. Dr. Daniel Duvall is a noted oncological surgeon whose life hasn’t been the same since losing his sister in a car accident the year before.

When Hope receives her diagnosis, she understands that her carefree artist’s lifestyle has left her without any options to save her life, but her friends try to convince her otherwise. They persuade Hope to seek treatment from the best doctor she knows. Trouble is, Hope is the reason Daniel’s sister is dead, and she doesn’t think saving her life is on his list of priorities.


Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories that remind the reader that God is always in the details. Three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, are available: Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken. Hope is the third book in The Ties that Bind Series, which also includes Charisse and Libby. Fay’s adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay will be: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series, and Delilah, Book 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor.

New Release: Hope by Fay Lamb

Hope Astor is literally a starving artist, living off the good graces of her friends as she seeks help for the fatigue that has plagued her for over a month. Dr. Daniel Duvall is a noted oncological surgeon whose life hasn’t been the same since losing his sister in a car accident the year before.

When Hope receives her diagnosis, she understands that her carefree artist’s lifestyle has left her without any options to save her life, but her friends try to convince her otherwise. They persuade Hope to seek treatment from the best doctor she knows.

Trouble is, Hope is the reason Daniel’s sister is dead, and she doesn’t think saving her life is on his list of priorities.


Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories that remind the reader that God is always in the details. Three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, are available: Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, and Everybody’s Broken. Hope is the third book in The Ties that Bind Series, which also includes Charisse and Libby. Fay’s adventurous spirit has also taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay will be: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series, and Delilah, Book 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor.

Pets: A Connection of Reader to the Story

By Fay Lamb

cat-71494_1280When I sit down to start a work in progress, I rarely have secondary characters in mind. My focus stays on the main characters and building their plots. As the story grows, the secondary characters come onto stage and show me their roles in the lives of the characters. Sometimes those secondary characters are pets or animals that parallel a character’s strength or weakness.

The way a character relates with the animals in their environment tells a lot about them. To date, I have included two cows, some chickens, a dog named Cletus, and a wild bear tagged Bumblebee.

In Better Than Revenge, the heroine owns a small farm. The care she and her son give to the animals shows much about the heroine’s character. She is a hard worker who’s brought up her son, teaching him not to slack his duty. She is caring, and when she is focused on keeping her son safe, he is much in tune with the care of the livestock, showing that his mother’s love has not been lost on him—and that’s a very important part of the story.

In my romance, Charisse, Cletus is a golden retriever. He is responsible for literally having the hero, Gideon, run into Charisse. Cletus’s unconditional love mirrores that of the love that the hero has for his heroine. In attempting to keep her secrets hid and to hold to her anger with regard to her husband’s death, Charisse is not easy to love, but like a dog with a bone, Gideon doesn’t surrender easily. Cletus also becomes a bridge that ties the hero to the heroine’s young son, a boy who, in his sadness, has forgotten how to laugh. At least, until Cletus mowed him over with wet sloppy kisses and a game of catch.dog-1082307_960_720

In my latest novel, Everybody’s Broken, Shane Browne has inherited a valuable piece of untamed mountain. He guards it and the wildlife with vigilance. When Shane begins to include the heroine’s young, twin sons on the hikes he and his daughter take up the mountain, they encounter Bumblebee.

Teaching the boys how to respect nature, Shane shares with the boys what to do in case the old lumbering Ms. Bumblebee advances toward them.

Yet Shane has a sense that Bumblebee is drawn to the boys. She deliberately steps into the clearing, always staying a respectful distance from them. If possible, he believes that she performs for them, but she never seems a danger to them. At least not until …

Bumblebees reaction to and her actions toward the boy mirror the feelings of protectiveness growing in Shane, and when Bumblebee does the unthinkable, Shane must trust that the bear knows what’s best for her adopted “cubs.”

In the two series that are written now, unless they come onto stage of my imagination and surprise me, I do not expect to have another animal. While I used Bumblebee to heighten the suspense for my readers, I can state that the one thing I will never do is to bring an animal into a story simply to play upon the emotions of a reader. An animal must always connect to the lead characters and advance the story forward. It is only then that they can become an emotional attachment.

A cheap shot for me, as an author, would be to take the rug out from under the reader and allow that connection to sever. Like it or not, most people will become attached to a four-legged character more readily than they will a two-legged one. As a reader, when a pet or another animal dies in a book, that’s all for me. Even if I continue to read, the message of the story is lost on me. My heart is broken. I feel I have been played, and I’m not delving too deeply into that story to have the author rip out the remaining pieces. Therefore, a reader might experience a suspenseful moment or two, but they can take a breath and relax. The animals in my stories aren’t going to die.

Now, the two-legged creatures …?


Fay LambFay Lamb is an editor, writing coach, and author, whose emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. With the release of Everybody’s Broken, three of the four books in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series, which also includes Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released.

Fay has also collaborated on two Christmas novella projects: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, and A Ruby Christmas, and the Write Integrity Press romance novella series, which includes A Dozen Apologies, The Love Boat Bachelor, and Unlikely Merger. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay are: Frozen Notes, Book 4 of the Amazing Grace series and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind series.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.

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3 Questions Wednesday with Fay Lamb

Today’s 3 Questions Wednesday guest is author, editor, and writing coach, Fay Lamb.

Fay LambWe’re so glad you could join us, Fay. First question:

Which author would you never get tired of, and why?

Fay:  James A. Michener. His books are vast and filled with research. While the beginning of his large historical novels take us back six million years (and I don’t believe in evolution), he weaves fascinating stories, whether he’s writing about Hawaiian history, the history of the space program, the residents of an assisted living program, or the tragedy of Kent State, Mr. Michener wrapped his readers in a wealth of scenery, knowledge, and character. I am actually writing a novel set in the world of professional surfing, and it is loosely based on my favorite Michener novel, The Drifters.

I am also a Michener fan, and am looking forward to your book about a professional surfer. Now–

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Fay: Scarlet O’Hara. I know. I know. She’s a heroine, but when we think of Gone with the Wind, don’t we think of Scarlet marrying Charles Hamilton for spite, stealing Frank Kennedy from her sister, and being headstrong in her infatuation for Ashley Wilkes. Those come first, and then we remember her heroism–which she exhibits for her self-preservation. Scarlet is both heroine and villain, and I don’t believe there has been another character quite like her.

Interesting. I never thought about that, but you are right. She is definitely a lovely villain/heroine. One last question:

What current projects are you working on?

Fay: Currently, I’m finishing up my portion of a multi-author collaboration–a novella entitled The Love Boat Bachelor,* which is a sequel to last year’s popular A Dozen Apologies. I’m also writing the third novel in my Amazing Grace series, Everybody’s Broken

*The Love Boat Bachelor released February 14, 2015. It is available as a Kindle download.

Fay, thanks so much for taking the time to complete our 3 Questions.

Readers – Please leave a comment on this post for a chance to win her contemporary romance, Libby.


Libby  by Fay LambLibby Final front cover

Libby Overstreet can’t see herself as anything but shy and socially awkward. She’s nearing thirty, and she’s never even been on a date. Then she meets the man of her dreams, but Libby knows he would never be interested in a wallflower like her. All she wants to do is to buy that garden nursery on the outskirts of town and settle down with the life she has always dreamed about.

Evan Carter has been watching the sweet woman in the coffee shop for weeks when his friend tells him that the object of his affection plans to buy a garden nursery and needs Evan’s expertise as an architect/contractor.

When they meet, Libby is more enamored of Evan and even more convinced that he would never look at her as anything but a friend.

However, that’s far from the truth. Evan would love to get to know the innocent beauty God has placed in this path. Trouble is, he fears that a lovely flower like Libby will wilt under the weight of his past wrongs, and he’ll do everything in his power to keep that from happening.

 

Fay Lamb is an author, editor, and writing coach. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and the newest adventure The Love Boat Bachelor. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Storms in Serenity (release Spring 2015), is the first novel in her Serenity Key series.

Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.