Enjoying the Olympics? Maybe you’d like Foreign Affairs.

Everybody seems to think they have an idea of what we’d like these days. If you rent a movie from an online service, that online service assumes it knows you well enough to make recommendations. I am certain that if I Google something, about a million advertising firms get hold of the information and bombard me with popups and online advertising about similar products. “Did you search for soccer scores? Buy your soccer cleats here.” Amazon is one of the worst about this. My Amazon home page changes from day to day depending on what I ordered or searched for last. Today the “Inspired by your shopping trends” has things like headbands, gardening tools, vacuum parts and a Star Wars Clone Trooper dart gun. I don’t actually want any of these things right now, but because I’ve bought things LIKE them there on former Amazon excursions (some dating back to last summer), Amazon assumes it knows me.

Ha!

On the other hand, I’m going to make a recommendation. If you’ve enjoyed watching the Olympics at least partly for the nice-looking males from all over the world, you may very well enjoy Foreign Affairs, the romance anthology featuring my story “Agapi Mou”. Foreign Affairs will be published Wednesday, August 8 (two days from now) and on September 8 in print. It features six men from six different countries who are not only good-looking, they’re also sweet and kind for the ultimate in sexy.

Am I on target for something YOU might like?

Changing focus: From a novel to a short story…

Let’s get something straight first. I don’t have a master’s in fine arts. My degrees are in journalism and library science. Two very fine degrees, to be sure, but sometimes I feel like I’m feeling around in the dark when I write about writing. I know the basics. I know how to plot a story, I know how to characterize and how to describe. I’m very good with grammar and my self-editing skills are improving. But when it comes to story arc and some of the finer points of writing, I go by instinct.

It took me almost forty years to write a decent novel. Before that, I played around with short stories and flash fiction…mostly flash fiction, or stories of 1,000 words or less. Finally I got up the courage to write a novel. Weeds and Flowers was my first novel, written in a series of flash pieces because I was too scared to attempt to write a novel the traditional way. Then I wrote Winter Solstice and put it away for several years. Finally, I wrote Secrets of the Lotus and decided it was good enough to publish. Fortunately, I found a publisher (the wonderful Lyrical Press) that agreed with me, and after I re-worked Winter Solstice, they published that one, too. Now I’m on my fourth novel with Where the Heart Lies.

So how much of a shift in focus does it require to write a short story after you’ve written a novel? A lot. I played around with short romances a little. I even won third prize in a romance short story contest with “Life After” (available in The Best of All Sins: Stories of Love & Heartbreak). Short romances are really tough to write because you have to avoid “fast forwarding” too much. Fast forwarding can be either skipping over a lot of scenes you’d normally put into a novel or just having two people fall in love too fast. We don’t live life in fast forward, and while it’s okay to skip the boring parts, you still need your story to make sense. I guess that’s where the story arc comes in–if you’ve got an MFA, anyway.

My second romance short story “Agapi Mou”, was as successful as my first. It appears in the romance anthology FOREIGN AFFAIRS, which goes on sale in ebook format from Turquoise Morning Press next week and in print a month later. “Agapi Mou”, which means “My Love” in Greek, follows the romance of Myron and Lisa and takes place on a vineyard in eastern North Carolina. Myron and Lisa have known each other for several years. Lisa owns the vineyard that grows the scuppernong grapes that Myron’s winery in Greece uses to make scuppernong wine. Circumstances have kept them apart but on one of Myron’s visits, a simple kiss awakens their attraction to each other. Is the attraction just eratos (erotic love)…or could it be agape (true love)?

FOREIGN AFFAIRS also features stories about other hot men from foreign countries by exemplary romance authors (with their heroes in parentheses) Karen Booth (Antonio from Italy), Karen Stivali (Daniel from England), Georgia St. Mane (Logan from England), Sidney Bristol (Luc from France) and J.M. Kelley (Declan from Ireland). Look for more about these authors and their stories in the coming days.

New Cover! Foreign Affairs cover announced…

Hey everybody! Big news this morning. Foreign Affairs, the romance anthology from Turquoise Morning Press with my story “Agapi Mou” (which means “My Love” in Greek), has a face!

What a face, huh? This book is chock full of romantic stories about gorgeous men from far off lands. The stuff dreams are made of. I’m thrilled to be in this anthology, which features the talents of Karen Booth, Sidney Bristol, J.M. Kelley, Karen Stivali and Georgia St. Mane. The anthology is set to release in August, so stay tuned for more information.

While you’re here, don’t forget that WHERE THE HEART LIES is my next baby, due out July 16. And to make it better, it’s only 99 cents during the month of July. You can pre-order your copy now using one of the links to the left. If you’ve already got your copy pre-ordered, help me spread the word. Tag me in a tweet or a Facebook post helping me promote WHERE THE HEART LIES, and I’ll go ahead and enter your name in some of my awesome giveaways I’ve got scheduled for July 16. And you know me…I love to give away e-readers!