Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Author, Actor, Director

~Sia McKye~

Many writers will tell you they see their stories unfold in their head, much like a movie.

Is that the case with you?

I attended a writer’s workshop recently that discussed using theatrical techniques when writing your story. It was presented by an actress and author (Leanna Renee Hieber) and was a fun workshop. I came away with better visual ideas for my writing.

The author is not only writer, but also:

  • Cinematographer and as such you’re in charge of the setting, picture, mood, and ambiance of each scene in the story.
  • Director whose job it is to set the staging, pacing, and viewpoint
  • Actor. As an actor you have to delve into the character. What’s the character’s motivation, how should the lines be delivered, how do you use the dialogue to show your character and his/her intent?

  • Marketing Director and as such what’s your movie poster quote? The one line pitch or tag line? You’re a brand so how do you present you and your work?

I’ve gotten stuck now and then, while writing. You know when you know something is wrong but you can’t quite figure out what. It’s frustrating. I had a light bulb moment as I was listening to the speaker. She said never forget your characters. They are what drive the book. If we’re writing, editing, or have gotten stuck ask yourself as the actor:

  • What’s my motivation?

  • How am I going to get what I want (intention and tactics)?

  • What’s the conflict? Or what’s keeping me from getting what I want?

  • What’s my environment and how is it affecting me? This is context.

My light bulb moment was, wow, I could use this for character and dialogue but I could also use this when crafting or editing my scene—especially if I’m stuck. It would help me look at each character within the scene to see if they’re reacting true to their GMC and is the scene being written to the best dramatic advantage.

Do you use any of these techniques when you write or edit?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Interview With Samantha Hunter, Harlequin Blaze

Samantha Hunter is my guest today and has written the second in the Dressed To Thrill Series. A very action-oriented, sexy romantic suspense.

Sam, welcome back to Over Coffee!

Dressed To Thrill is a fun new Blaze series, written by some very talented authors. I’ve read the first in the series and will be reading the second. Considering the shorter format of Blaze, compared to single title romance, these stories are quite satisfying to read. I love the way the authors create realistic, multi-layered characters you can emotionally connect with and share some Red Hot adventures.

Last month, I featured Tawny Weber and the first in the series, Feels Like The First Time. I’ve read Sam’s books in the past and can guarantee her installment will be good.

Here’s the Blurb for Caught In The Act:

  • The outfit was ridiculously revealing. Still, food writer Gina Thomas needed a disguise for the costume party…just so she could sneak into divorce lawyer Mason Scott's office and steal a few photos to save her sister—the trouble magnet.However, the costume seems to bring out the naughtier side of Gina. And Mason can't keep his gorgeous eyes—or his hands—off her! But even as the New-And-Way-Sexier Gina submits to Mason's exquisitely carnal attentions, Practical Gina wonders how long before she's caught red-handed….

    Sam graciously answered some questions for me regarding the series and her newest book and what we can expect from her in 2010.

    Did Blaze editors approach you about this series? Or did you four come to them with the proposal?
Actually, I was up in Toronto visiting my editor, and mentioned to Birgit and Brenda that I wanted to do a continuity at some point, and they said to come up with some pitches, find some authors I’d like to write with, and get back to them.

So, it was pretty much an open field. I asked Tawny Weber, Karen Foley, and Lisa Renee Jones, and we starting coming up with ideas. However, none of the stuff we came up with stuck with editors. Brenda told me she was looking for something with costumes, and the idea for a “wrong costume” series – much like the popular “wrong bed” books – popped up.

The girls and I came up with the premise of the online costume shop that ships out the wrong costumes to heroines, and Brenda loved it, so we started planning stories.

Another fun element was as we were planning our stories, we wondered “why would these costume mistakes keep being made?” and so we ended up working with the editors to create a mini-romance that carries through each book, found in the prologues and epilogues, that tells the story of the clerk at the costume shop who keeps making shipping errors – and why. :-)

It was a fun, exhausting, and satisfying process, and it was always nice to have each other to talk with as we went through the whole thing. We’re still talking as a group as the reviews come out, and we’re running our free Twitter spin-off stories.

  • What Twitter Stories?

Glad you asked. ;) Jayne at eHarlequin asked us if we wanted to do some kind of Twitter promotion for the series, and we came up with the idea of a round robin – so, we’re all writing four new round-robin stories that are spin-offs of the miniseries titles.

  • That’s quite an undertaking considering the limitations on word counts for each tweet. How do you manage that?

A new story will run monthly, and we post five story tweets each day on Twitter – you can follow @BlazeDTT or read the updated story daily at

We have a guest author contribute tweets each Friday, and there are also discussions and prizes going on at various discussion groups – you can find all of the info and links through the Tweet Tweet Love website.

As you can see, there are a lot of little treats associated with this series, and I can offer one more, my Online Read at eHarlequin, CAUGHT BY SURPRISE, (you can also find Caught in the Act here) that is the story of my hero’s younger brother.

  • Tawny's heroine was a bit of a sexy footloose geek, not well liked in school and reluctantly goes to her HS reunion. Of course she finds love where she least expects it. What's the deal with your heroine?

You should all run out and get the book to find out! LOL

  • Trust me, I intend to as soon as it’s available :-) Which is October 1st.

Gina, the heroine in CAUGHT IN THE ACT, is an overly responsible big sister who has always lived in the shadow of her younger, sexier sister (who is also always in trouble). Gina is a reserved, shy restaurant reviewer who works from home, and you know what it can be like working at home – she spends a lot of time in sweats and doesn’t meet many new men, so not much dating.

Gina is getting her sister out of trouble – again – when she has to sneak into Mason Scott’s home to steal some revealing pictures of her sister (being used in a divorce settlement – Mason is a divorce lawyer). But, while she wanted an inconspicuous costume, she ends up in a cabaret singer’s outfit, and is mistaken for the entertainment. She actually can sing, so she goes for it, and well, let’s just say that’s just the beginning of the end of Gina’s boring life – things get very exiting, very dangerous, and very sexy.

  • Which scene in your novel did you love writing and why?

Oh, this is tough, because I love this entire book – seriously, I had so much fun with it. It’s a very action-oriented, sexy romantic suspense. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I have to say, one of my very favorite scenes is with the heroine’s sister – when she’s talking to the Coast Guard, and what she does at the end of that scene. I was writing it, and going back and forth with my friend Larissa Ione, whose husband is in the USCG, and they were reading it for me to make sure it was all accurate, and it was a blast, but I absolutely love what Gina’s sister does there.

As for Gina herself, I think one of my favorite moments with her is when she and the hero are in under serious threat, trapped in a house with bad guys coming in, and Mason wants her to hide in the closet. She absolute refuses, and picks up something to hit them with instead – I think it’s a moment where we see what’s she’s really made of, even when she doesn’t see it herself.

  • Was this your first experience taking part in a series like this?
Yes, this is my first continuity, though I have done some anthologies, and various miniseries within the Blaze line. A miniseries/anthology is where individual authors write books on a certain theme, and the books all have that flash on the cover, and they come out at various times over several years. A continuity is where several authors work together on separate books linked by a common premise, and sometimes by common characters, and the books come out together, one after the other, since they are linked.Anyway, I did enjoy it. Writing can be so solitary most of the time, it was very nice being able to contact the group at any point to brainstorm or just vent. Now, being able to enjoy the final products and readers’ reactions together, it’s all been great.

So what’s next from you?

My next Blaze release is in March 2010, a two-story collection of Blazing Bedtime Stories where I will share a book with Kimberly Raye – her story in the book is “Cupid’s Bite,” and mine is “I Wish He Might…” – I think it’s hysterical how they rhyme. ;) But my story is about a tabloid reporter who meets a sexy genie… and he gets to make her wishes come true. ;)

After that, I also have a May release which people have come to call “the magic icing book.” LOL! The title is MAKING YOUR MOVE, and it’s about a woman who owns a bakery with her college buddy, who happens to be a scientist who has made an extract used in cookie frosting which enhances female pheromones to attract any man they are interested in. It was an incredibly fun book to write… less of the suspense and danger, though there is a little mystery in there, but most just sexy fun. :-)

Sam, thank you for answering my questions and sharing a bit of what we can look forward to in 2010. I love the idea of Making Your Move and I’m looking forward to reading Caught In The Act.
Samantha Hunter lives in Syracuse New York with her husband and several pets. Since January 2004 when she sold her first book to Harlequin Blaze, Virtually Perfect, she has gone on to publish several more with new releases on the way. Sam holds two Master's degrees and was a university instructor for many years before quitting to live the writing life.

Visit Sam's author Blog at

For even more red-hot masquerade mishaps, read other Dressed to Thrill titles, including:

Feels Like the First Timeby Tawny WeberHarlequin Blaze Miniseries: Dressed to Thrill September

Hold on to the Nightsby
Karen FoleyHarlequin Blaze Miniseries: Dressed to Thrill November 2009

Santa, Babyby Lisa Renee JonesHarlequin Blaze Miniseries: Dressed to Thrill December 2009