This morning, Her Story Calls Bloggers would like to welcome guest blogger Lynn Lorenz. Lynn has more than 30 books currently in print or available electronically from multiple publishers such as Loose ID, Amber Quill Press and Etopia Press. She writes Erotica and Traditional Romance, but always about the romance, and happily she’s added an excerpt after the blog. Thank you, Lynn!
What’s wrong with a little diversity? By Lynn Lorenz
Well, since I write predominately gay romance, I’m a big advocate of diversity. It’s what makes the world go round and keeps things from being boring.
When my kids were little I explained to them why there were so many different looking people. I asked them if all the cats, dogs, fish, and birds looked and acted the same. They said, rolling their eyes, “Of course not!” (Like I was stupid.) My response was, “Same with people.” And then I asked, “So of all the flowers, which one is the best?” I’d stumped them. “None of them,” they said. “Right. Just like people.” They nodded solemnly, understanding burning in their eyes. Score one for mom!
Now I think of romance as an umbrella genre. It covers a wide spectrum of diversity, especially in heat levels from sweet, inspirational, to erotic romance. But that’s not where diversity stops.
There is a range of genres, like YA, paranormal, romantic suspense, or series, LGBT, with all sorts of themes. And that’s where I love to play. That’s where the true diversity can come out, mix it up with traditional, and create entire new twists on traditional stories.
Like steampunk, or distopian stories, or sci-fi regency, or sci-fi paranormal, or distopian YA, even historical paranormal. I’m sure you can think of a few books that mash it up.
So when I think of a story, I first think of where can I take it? How far can I push it? Can I mix a noir detective with a distopian futuristic or a regency with sci-fi? Sure. It’s all in my power to build the story any way I want it, as long as it works as a romance. And for me, that means a happily ever after.
Thinking not just out of the box, but with a twist, is so freeing. It can wipe away those boring cobwebs, throw something new into the same old same old, and maybe even lead you to that NYT bestseller.
Taking a risk, mashing up genres and themes, expands your abilities as a writer, and that’s got to be good, especially if you can make it work. You certainly won’t be bored.
Even taking that twist down to the story level and the character level, will work to shake it up. In Lucky In Red, a werewolf anthology containing my novella Red Velvet Moon, came about because the publisher asked me if I’d write a werewolf/vampire, set in a bar, where the women the three men met all wore red dresses. I contacted a couple of friends, and we started brainstorming, and what we came up with was a werewolf story, the three Lobos brothers who were Hispanic, and lived in Sleeping Dog, Texas. They owned and ran the family dry cleaners, and they each meet their mate when she brings in a stained red dress. Each man must solve the mystery of the stain and win his woman.
We divvied up characters, each taking a brother, I got the youngest, Antonio, the geek, who wore glasses and had a Masters in business. He had the hots for a customer, Daphne, a full-figured gal who owned an Italian restaurant in town. She’s embarrassed to eat in front of him, and she loves to eat, but since they’re perfect for each other, he gets off on feeding her and watching her eat and enjoy the food.
So, when I stretched the character pool, he wasn’t the big hunky alpha hero, but a little nerdy, still handsome and sexy, and definitely the brains of the family. And Daphne wasn’t the typical perfectly gorgeous heroine. She’s beautiful, but plump, and sensitive about it, and she has to overcome what she thinks men want. Tony has to overcome being the baby and a geek, and with Daphne, he can be the man…er, wolf, he was meant to be. And the fun they have as Tony tries to coax out the story of her blood stained red velvet dress is often cited as “hot, hot, hot.”
Here’s a little excerpt of Red Velvet Moon, from Passion in Print….
Tony opened the bag and pulled out a red velvet dress. Real velvet, not the new stuff, this dress was vintage, halter-topped, and full-skirted. Glamorous, rich in looks and feel, a dress he knew she’d look spectacular in, showing off those magnificent breasts. He swallowed to keep from drooling, but God, his wolf wanted to lick her all over.
“It’s badly stained and I’m afraid it might be ruined. It’s my favorite dress and I’ll just die if it can’t be fixed.” Daphne frowned.
“Let’s see what we have before we give up on it.”
She tapped her fingers on the counter, biting her lip as he inspected the dress. Dark splotches covered the halter top, making the fabric stiff. Familiar-looking, but it couldn’t be, could it? He brought the dress to his nose and inhaled, relying on his wolf senses to tell him what had caused the stain.
“Can you get it out?”
Out, out, damned spot.
He glanced up at her. It had to be her blood. He could smell her on the dress, but it made sense that her scent would be all over it. The mixture of vanilla, lavender, and blood tickled his nose, and he sniffed the dress again to isolate the smells.
“This is blood.” He watched her reaction. “Yours?”
“Noooo,” she dragged the word out, as if reluctant to confirm or deny.
“No?” He put the dress down. “Just whose blood is this and how did so much of it get on your dress?”
She blushed, gulped, and looked all around the shop, avoiding his gaze. He’d never seen anyone look so guilty, but he couldn’t imagine her hurting anyone. It was ridiculous to think she was some sort of serial killer, wasn’t it?
“Well, you know head wounds. They bleed like crazy.” She gave a nervous giggle and rolled her eyes.
“Head wounds?” He gaped at her as his gaze darted between her face and the dress. There had to be a rational explanation that didn’t include a dead body and her doing time.
“Look, maybe I shouldn’t have brought it in. It’s a lost cause. I should just get rid of it.” She reached out to snatch the dress from him, but he caught the end of the dress.
“No, wait!” They stared into each other’s eyes for the longest moment, the garment stretched between them. “I can do it. I can clean it.” Desperate, he didn’t want her to leave, or to fail in her eyes. She’d come to him for help, after all.
He wanted to be her hero.
“I have a duty as a dry cleaner to help those in need.” Oh God, did he really just say that? And with a straight face and without a cape? He sounded like a Saturday morning cartoon hero, and he so wasn’t the type. Not like alpha wolf Max or Diego’s firefighting bravery. He was the geek type. They never got the girl.
“Really?” She gazed at him like he was all that and a bag of tortilla chips as she leaned toward him, and he couldn’t help but lean in, focused on those full pink lips of hers. No way could she have killed anyone, right? God, he wanted her and he didn’t care if she had killed someone.
“On one condition.”
She frowned and pulled back a little.
“Tell me what happened. The truth.” Tony placed his hand over hers and gave it a gentle squeeze, hoping to reassure her about his intentions.
“The truth?” She paled.
“You can trust me.” God, he sounded just like Diego trying to schmooze some pick-up. If he were Max, he’d just order her to do it and she’d submit to him, but all Tony had to work with was his sincerity.
Their gazes locked, and their breath and time stilled. Could he actually hear her heart beating or was that his?
“Can I really trust you?” She licked her lips and tilted her head at him.
“All right.” She took a deep breath, leaned even closer, and gazed up into his eyes. A slow smile spread over her face. “Well, you see, he needed killin’.”
In The Ambassador’s Daughter, a sci-fi set in Earth’s future, I mixed politics, romance, sci-fi and regency.
The heroine is Brett, a former space marine, who follows her father in his ambassador assignment to New Commonwealth, a world colonized by the followers and descendants of European monarchies. Despite living in a high-tech world, they’ve built their society around the Regency, with all its morals, rules, and long gowns.
Brett could never just fit in. She’s a leader, just like her father Jonathan, a galactic war hero. On New Commonwealth, Brett finally finds a reason to adapt, in Stephen Brandon, or Lord Brandon as he’s known to his friends. Second cousin to the queen, Stephen is smitten with this new and exotic woman, so unlike the Commonwealth women he knows.
So it’s a fish out of water story, mixed with political intrigue, sci-fi weaponry, and some kick ass fighting, or as my editor says, “It’s 24 meets Jane Austin with a female Jack Bauer.”
Here’s an excerpt of the first time Stephen sees Brett….
“Now, Brett. Let’s knock ‘em dead,” Ambassador Jonathan Butler whispered into his daughter’s right ear. She tucked her long black hair behind her ear, a recent habit she’d picked up in order to hear him better.
“Right, sir. Weapons locked and loaded.” She reached out to straighten his red ascot and run her hand down the lapel of his suit. The black tails looked good on him. The man was built to wear a uniform, and it didn’t matter which one it was.
“You present the gifts, Brett. You know I hate that sort of thing.”
“I’d planned on it.”
“It’s only fair after all; you selected them.” He touched her chin with the back of his hand and winked. “I would have brought them something awful, like a stuffed buffalo head.”
“Not the one on the wall of the library back home? That’s your favorite! You wouldn’t have parted with Old Bill, would you?”
“And give up great-great-great Grandfather’s trophy? Not for all the ambassadorships in the galaxy.” He shook his head.
“It’s time to go in.” Brett motioned to the servant who was waiting for them to enter the ballroom.
“Right. Damn the torpedoes,” he intoned in her ear.
“Full speed ahead,” she answered as they stepped through the carved double doors and into the Grand Ballroom.
* * *
“Good Lord, Brandon, who is this?” Johann leaned over to his cousin.
Stephen looked up. The most beautiful woman he’d ever seen stood in the doorway on the arm of an older man; the ambassador from Earth, if he recognized the insignia on the sash correctly.
“I have no idea. The new ambassador’s wife?” Stephen asked. Breathe, boy.
“Lucky bastard.” Johann looked closer. “No, too young. The man must be her father.”
“God, I hope so. I’ll slit my throat if she’s married to him.” Stephen looked for a place to put down his drink. He found an empty tray on a stand and left his glass there. Taking a quick look at himself in the reflective glass of the garden doors, he tried to get that lock of hair that always fell over his brow to stay put.
It seemed his hair did not intend to humor him in his moment of need.
Turning back to the crowd and taking his place at Johann’s side, Stephen watched the young woman and the ambassador make their way toward the ceremony hall, stopping every now and then to speak to various people.
“Stop her, Cousin. Introduce us, in the name of God and my grandfather,” Stephen whispered hoarsely.
“Practically no difference there.” Johann snorted. “You’re pathetic, Cousin. The first fresh pretty face you see in a year, and you’re falling over yourself to get to her. Look around, man. You’re not the only one.” Johann motioned with his drink around the ballroom. Conversation in the room had halted as everyone turned and stared at the pair.
“Good Lord! Has she no sense of propriety?” Helena joined her husband to stand at his elbow. “What is she wearing?”
Stephen took his eyes off the stranger’s face and looked at her clothes. The suit she wore looked like some sort of leather, black and white with silver buttons. Long fringe ran down the underarms and across the back of her long fitted jacket and dangled from the hem of her knee-length riding skirt to the tops of her boots. Her black-tooled boots were trimmed in silver on the toes and heels.
Stephen’s face broke into a wide grin. “A riding skirt and boots, I believe.”
“Good Lord,” Helena said with a gasp.
The young woman had pulled her waist length black hair back on one side and held it in place with a silver and turquoise jeweled comb. The other side fell loose. The color of the turquoise matched perfectly her blue-green eyes.
“Well, she’s like no one I’ve ever seen,” Johann admitted.
“She’s so exotic,” Stephen murmured. “So very off world.”
“She’ll never fit in here. She’s doomed,” Helena declared, and everyone nodded.
“Then, we must save her.” Stephen stepped forward.
As you can see, I just love mixing it up. Characters, themes, genres, situations. Try it, you might love it. I know I do. Keep it fresh. Keep it twisted.
Lynn Lorenz, www.lynnlorenz.com
Lucky In Red, available at Passion In Print in both ebook and print format. http://www.passioninprint.com/ShowList.php?AUTH=_AUTH11
The Ambassador’s Daughter, available at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/The-Ambassadors-Daughter-ebook/dp/B005G59YQA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322706911&sr=1-1