Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Walking The Line Between Serious And Silly

Debra Solonen is my guest today and is the author of over 30 books, including  THE SENTINEL PASS SERIES

Her series combines elements of serious and silly, weighty issues and just plain fun. Debra's series tagline gives you a hint of what to expect, "In this townand in this TV showlife imitates art."

Today Debra discusses writing humor into her stories and gives us a scene she didn't think would make it into her book. I have to say just picturing a scene like this cracked me up.

I love to read books that contain elements of humor. It doesn't have to be over-the-stop. In fact, slapstick is extremely hard to write. Believe me, I've tried. I usually get a scolding from my editor.

Something like,

“You're trying too hard here.”

“I don't find this humorous.”

“Less is more.”

Or the worst: a sad face.

I dread upside-down-heart sad faces. (Don't you think that should be an icon? And who agrees we need a thumbs-down on Facebook?)

Sorry. I digress. The point I'm trying to make is, with humor, everything is relative. I write the scene I see in my head and sometimes—not always—it works.

For example, I did NOT expect the following scene to make the cut in my book, UNTIL HE METRACHEL. And, yet, my editor adorned it with smiley faces and LOLs, and I've heard from a lot of readers who said it was their favorite scene in the book.

What do you think? Thumbs-up or upside-down heart?

She’d turned to finish picking up the boxes but something stopped her.

Rufus glanced around. “Uh-oh.” He put his hands on his hips. “Fred,” he boomed. “What have you done to Rachel’s…um…sex toys?”

Rufus leaned down to pick up the object Rat Girl had dropped beside his booted foot. The handle of the hot pink whip was as long as his forearm but tapered to a fine point, which was adorned with ribbons and brilliant purple feathers. He couldn’t have been more surprised if a marching band of elves had suddenly appeared.

He cleared his throat and picked up the gaudy, over-the-top instrument of…um…pleasure? He hated to admit he wasn’t sure how it might be used, but his initial impression of Rachel had changed. And a certain part of him could even envision testing out the silly thing. With her.

“Oh, my,” she said, her gaze following as a couple of bright feathers drifted back to the snow.

“Sorry,” he said, handing the whip to her, blunt end first, as if it were a knife or a loaded pistol.

Her chin rose with a kind of dignity Rufus admired, but her attempted smile betrayed her. “Faulty boxing. That happens when you hire family,” she said, a little hitch in her voice.

He was a single step away from her. Even in the dry, cold breeze, he could smell her. Not the cedar, pine, dog and earth he was most familiar with, but something fresh and feminine that he realized with a start he’d been craving. Their gazes met and held for what felt like too long. Especially given the nature of the objects scattered on the ground around them.

He was the first to move. He started toward the wreck of a box, intending to cram anything and everything back inside. She jumped sideways, arms out, to block his efforts. “No. Please. I’ll do it. This is so embarrassing. When I see my brother…”

Words spilled out of her mouth at a rate Rufus’s brother would have called super-soundic. Even as a little kid, Stephen was always making up new words.

He gave a mental shake to return to the moment. What part of this situation made me think of Stevie?

Farce. Stephen had loved gross-out comedy. The more inane the better. Their parents had hoped he’d out-grow it. Unfortunately, he never got the chance.

He was stuck in memory lane when he heard her low, “Uh-oh.” Her inflection sounded pained.

Since she’d positioned herself to keep him from seeing the worst of the spill, he had to peer around her to discover what unspeakable horror had her momentarily frozen in place.

“Yowch,” he said, one hand dropping to his groin without conscious thought. “I’ll replace it.”

Rachel looked at the horrified expression on Rufus’s face and wasn’t sure whether to laugh or pray for the earth to open up and swallow her alive. It was a sixty-five dollar, nine-inch, all-too-realistic looking dildo that Rachel had unwrapped at her bridal shower to the jeers —“Trust me. It’s better than the real thing,” one woman had proclaimed—and cheers of other party goers. Her friends and co-workers had even named it for her. “Dexter.” After the HBO serial killer with a conscience.

At the moment, Dex was giving extreme pleasure to the dog with the big, squarish head. Fred, she believed. And Fred was chomping on the pliable “life-like” rubber with such gusto his master actually looked pained by the image.

She fought to contain the laugher that started bubbling up from that horrible well of inappropriate responses that her exhusband had hated so much, but she simply couldn’t it hold back. Within seconds she was doubled over, howling. Tears—the Chris-Rock-on-a-roll kind—obscured her vision and she actually had to 
grab Rufus’s arm for support until her ab-scrunching guffaws diminished.

“Oh, wow,” she said through her sniffles. “I needed that.”

Around here, we refer to that as the “Sex toys” scene. Who woulda thought, right?

Tell me what makes you giggle in a book or when you think the author is completely out of her mind...and your name will go into a drawing for one of my books. They don't all have sex toys, but I guarantee there will be humor.

Presently, I'm at work on my new book and, as usual, I walk a line between serious and silly, weighty issues and just plain fun.

By the way, UNTIL HE MET RACHEL was named Best Superromance of 2010 by
RomanticTimes BOOKreviews, and it's one of your choices...if you're into that sort of
thing. ;-)

Buy: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, eHarlequin  You can find all the books of her Sentinel Series listed on Debra's Website. Books are available in both print and ebook.


Debra Salonen wrote her first story in crayon on the underside of her mother's coffee table. Her mother was not amused. Subsequent writing efforts included a screenplay for Flipper--in block print on lined paper (you can see why it never got picked up, right?), a spy thriller --okay, a blatant rip-off of James Bond; an Irma Bombeck-esque series of letters to her family, which might have come across as a tad more whiny than amusing, and, eventually, she enjoyed a four-year stint as an award-winning feature writer for a newspaper.

In 2000, her first romance novel was published by Harlequin for its Superromance line. That novel, THAT COWBOY'S KIDS, has recently been re-released, bringing Deb's total number of published books to 30. Her May 2010 release, UNTIL HE MET RACHEL, was honored by RTBook Reviews as the Reviewer's Choice for "Best Superromance of 2010."

In addition to her two current Superromance titles, RETURN TO THE BLACK HILLS and A FATHER'S QUEST, Deb is enjoying a renewed flirtation with short stories. Her first Kindle release, "A Hundred Years or More," looks at that special bond between a pet and his owner, and what happens when a pet--in this case, a parrot--outlives his owner.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Musings: Moments Good and Bad

The past few weeks have not been kind to me. My bridge bit the dust. Finding out that no, it can’t be repaired. Worse, I had a pivotal tooth break. Ugh. Even worse, the procedure to fix everything couldn’t be done immediately. Which meant learning to perfect a Mona Lisa smile and not an easy task for someone who smiles with their whole face and shows lots of teeth. Gosh, all I needed was a long piece of straw, floppy hat, say, Yee-haw.

Let’s just say looking in the mirror has been depressing. I’ve never even seen myself without those teeth. No, I’m not about to put on lipstick, no, I don’t want to go out to dinner. Hell, I don’t want to go anywhere. So I’ve been hiding out and will continue to until next week when the surgeon does his thing—pulling this out screwing that in, twisting the other thing. At least I’ll be asleep while they do all that. But this isn’t a quick procedure. The whole thing will span six weeks. Oh, yay.

My guys have been trying to cheer me up, and doing a pretty good job of it. Until a few days ago when I mentioned that Sunday was Mother’s Day and I needed to get a card for my mom. My son gives me this blank look of, huh? My heart dropped to my feet. He hasn’t gotten me anything. I felt the tears well up. I am not a weepy woman. Did I mention I’ve been feeling sorry for myself?

Mother’s Day is a favorite holiday of mine; in part because there was a time I thought I would never get to be one. A mother, that is. Then surprise, a baby was on the way. When I looked into that little ET face, I felt so very blessed and the wait had been worth it. My first Mother’s Day was such a time of joy for me. So for me, it’s more important than any of the other holidays, except my anniversary.

My husband never fails to get me special things. But when I woke up, there wasn’t a card or anything. Very strange. He did have my coffee ready when I stumbled into the kitchen and after drinking a cup that heavenly brew; I took the dogs for a long walk and came back to breakfast and a rose. Awww.

When I came back from my shower, there on the table was a beautiful silk arrangement of peonies, roses, and a few other flowers (I prefer silk to real), cards, and gifts. Hugs, from both my son and hubs. Plus, they had found the clock I’ve been lusting after and every time I tried to order it, it had been out of stock.

My son told me when he hugged me how hard I made it when I looked so sad to think he had forgotten Mother’s Day. “Sheesh, mom, I almost pulled out your card early just to make you smile. I would never forget Mother’s Day.”

My husband told me Son had spent a lot of time finding just the right card for me. He tried to help but Son said, “No Dad, it’s not the right one. I’ll know it when I see it.” It was a special one about the strong bond between a mother and a son. It went into my special chest with his first shoes, the outfit I brought him home from the hospital in, and other treasures I cherish and added over the years.

  • There are certain holidays and family traditions that are special. What are some of yours?