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These are my writing posts from my former blog, spanning 2009-2012. To see new writing posts, click on the blog tab above. To see these archived post organized by topic, click "For Writers" above.

Entries in harlequin (5)


Guest Blog & Contest: Writing a Quality Medical Scene by Wendy S. Marcus

Today I have something a bit different for you. Author Wendy S. Marcus is going to give us some insight into writing medical romance (and a chance to win a book!) This may be a subgenre you've never heard of, but I'm sure you all are familiar with the medical shows that have been so successful on television. Hot doctors. High drama. Life and death stakes. What's not to love? 

Well, Harlequin has a whole line dedicated to those types of stories! : ) So I hope you'll give Wendy a warm welcome and a congratulations on her debut.

Writing a Quality Medical Scene for Romance
By: Wendy S. Marcus

Thank you so much for hosting me on the 24th stop on my blog tour to promote my debut Harlequin Medical Romance, WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH. Today I’ve decided to chat about writing a quality medical scene for romance.

Medical scenes are great for infusing tension, drama and emotion into a story. They are also fraught with risk that too much detail, gore or technical speak will pull a reader out of a story.

The most important first step is to know your audience. A reader who picks up a medical thriller or suspense and adventure book is expecting a different experience than a reader devouring a romance.

The second step is to determine what you want to accomplish with the scene. Is it to introduce the heroic doctor and compassionate nurse? Is it to show how well they work together, how skilled they are, and/or how much they respect each other? Is it to drive a wedge in the romantic relationship of a non-medical hero and heroine? Or, conversely, is it intended as a catalyst to bring an estranged couple back together?  

After that, you need to identify which of the characters in the scene has the most to lose or gain, and write in their point of view (POV). Is it the mother whose three-year-old son has been rushed to the Emergency Room after being found at the bottom of a neighbor’s swimming pool? Or the nurse on duty who is struggling to function while reliving the night her own young son died as the result of a drowning accident one year prior? Or the neighbor who was in charge of babysitting the child, who loves the child as if it were his own, and who had planned to propose to the child’s mother that evening? Or is it the doctor who remained at work after the end of his shift to assist in resuscitating the child, who refused to report off to his relief so he could be certain every possible measure was taken to save the child’s life, despite his fiancé’s ultimatum: Come home on time or we’re through?

Do you see how identifying who has the most to lose or gain in the scene and writing in their POV adds a whole other dimension? (Now I know some of you may have been quick to think: Of course it would be the mother who had the most to lose. Not necessarily. It’s all how you, the author, choose to write the scene and who your hero and heroine happen to be.)

Next, write the scene through the senses of the POV character. Let the reader experience the emotion of the scene through your character’s observations and reactions. A medical scene needs to be about more than cataloging injuries, sopping up blood, and treating illness. In medical romance, as in all category romance novels, the focus of each scene needs to be on the relationship of the hero and heroine. How does the medical scene impact the POV character? How does it impact the relationship between the hero and heroine?

You don’t need to be a medical professional to write a medical scene. Not all medical romance authors are doctors or nurses. My editor says, “If you’re good with research, you can write a medical romance.” But don’t skimp on the research. Even though I’m a nurse, I do extensive research before I write each medical scene to make sure my information (and memory) is accurate. Even though you’re writing a romance, you still want your medical scenes to be as realistic and accurate as possible - while keeping the blood, guts, and gore to a minimum.

And readers like closure. If you go into the backstory of a patient, or he/she shows up in more than one scene, your readers will want to know what happens to him/her.

Here is an excerpt of a medical scene from Chapter 9 of WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH:

Allison a.k.a Ali, a nurse, is my heroine. Jared a.k.a. Dr. P., an E.R. doctor, is my hero.

Gas pedal met floor mat and the car took off. Ali made a screeching turn up the hilly drive to the hospital, honked at pedestrians too stupid to look where they were walking, and skidded to a stop under the bright red “Emergency Room” sign. She slammed the car into park, and, heart pounding, jumped out and ran for help.
            “Come on. Come on.” Gramps could die in the time it took the freakin’ electric doors to open. Once inside, Ali yelled out as loud as she could. “I need help. Now.” She ran for the empty stretcher in Trauma Room One. “Dr. P., Polly. Where is everyone?”
            Pushing the stretcher to the sliding doors Ali met up with Jared who ran out of Exam Room Three and Polly who came from Trauma Room Two.
            “It’s Gramps.” Nothing more needed to be said. Polly helped her navigate the stretcher. Jared ran out ahead of them. By the time Ali and Polly had the stretcher out to the curb; Jared stood holding Gramps in his arms. 
             “He’s conscious,” Jared said.
            The second Jared laid Gramps on the stretcher Ali started to push.
            “Wait,” Polly called. “The side rails.”
            Ali knew better than to transport a patient without the side rails up. She locked the railing on her side of the stretcher into place while Polly did the same on the other side.
            “Let’s go. Let’s go,” Jared called out. On the way in Ali rattled off Gramps’s past medical history, including a prior myocardial infarction five years ago and his current medications.
            Another nurse on duty joined Jared, Polly, and Ali in Trauma Room One. She whipped out her scissors, prepared to cut up the front of Gramps’s shirt. “Wait. That’s his favorite shirt,” Ali said, fumbling to undo the buttons.
            “You shouldn’t be in here,” the nurse, not one of Ali’s favorite people at the moment, said.
            The shirt unbuttoned, Ali struggled to take it off. Polly tried to help, twisting Gramps’s arm into what looked like an uncomfortable position. “Careful. You’re going to hurt him,” Ali said.
            “We need to get him hooked up to the monitor,” Polly said. “Think like a nurse, or Teresa’s right. You shouldn’t be in here.”    
            The shirt finally off, Polly attached the chest leads, Teresa hooked up the oxygen, and Ali primed the IV tubing. That done, she grabbed the basket of IV supplies and prepared to insert the peripheral intravenous cannula. She straightened the arm and tied the rubber tourniquet above his elbow. She exposed the antecubital fossa and palpated for the vein. Once she identified the insertion site, she opened the prep pad and cleansed the area. She operated on autopilot. Had done this thousands of times.
            Bevel up, she positioned the needle and prepared to puncture the skin. Gramps’s skin. Her eyes filled with tears. She wiped them away. Lowered the cannula. Her hands shook. A tear dripped onto the surface she’d just disinfected.
            “Outside,” Jared said. His tone authoritative.
            She didn’t move, knew she was hindering their care but couldn’t get her legs to walk. Gramps’s color looked gray. Not good. The cardiac monitor beat out an irregular rhythm, far slower than normal. He lay motionless on the table, except for the shallow rise and fall of his chest. 
            A strong arm came around her shoulders and led her to the door. “We’ll take good care of him, Ali,” Jared said. “Wait in the lounge.”
            “Line’s in,” Polly said. “IV infusing.”
            “Waiting for medication orders, Dr. P.,” the other nurse said.
Ali pulled away and ran for the stretcher unable to bear the thought this may be the last time she’d see him alive. “I have to tell him where I’ll be.” She leaned in close to Gramps’ ear, crying in earnest. “I’ll be right outside, Gramps. Polly’s here. And Dr. P. They’ll take good care of you.” She kissed his cool, clammy cheek. “I love you. Don’t you leave me. I need you so much. Especially now.”

To learn more about me or to read an excerpt from the beginning of WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH, visit my website:

If you like what you’ve read so far, WHEN ONE NIGHT ISN’T ENOUGH is available:
In the UK in stores and on Amazon 
In Aus/NZ in stores and on the Mills and Boon website
In the U.S. online at Amazon 

So what’d you think about my excerpt(s)? Can you envision yourself adding a medical scene to your next manuscript? I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about writing a quality medical scene for romance or about Harlequin Medical Romance in general. Are you a fan of medical romance? Do you watch medical drama shows on television? Are you willing to give my medical romance a try? One lucky commenter will win a copy of my 2in1 UK edition which includes a complete novel by author Janice Lynn! 

Wendy S. Marcus lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley region of New York with her husband, two of her three children, and a much loved Bichon Frise named Buddy. A nurse by trade, Wendy has her master’s degree in health care administration. After years of working in the medical profession, Wendy has taken a radical turn to writing hot contemporary romance with strong heroes, feisty heroines, and lots of laughs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and blogging/e-mailing/tweeting with her online friends. To learn more about Wendy visit her website,

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 All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|


Guest Post: Author Tiffany Reisz on Why Erotica?

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First, the contest winners from last Friday's Win- a Crit contest are at the bottom of this post! :) 

Now, today I have the pleasure of introducing you to one of my agency-sisters, debut author Tiffany Reisz. Tiffany is an amazing erotica author whose first novel, Siren, will release from Harlequin Spice in late 2011. She also has a little e-book nibble releasing TODAY from Spice Briefs, so if you want a little (okay a lot) of sexy in your day, go check it out! (over 18 crew only)

Now I know most of you probably lump erotic romance and erotica into the same category. But even though the two genres have a lot in common, there are also a number of differences. I'm a romance writer by trade, so I figured why give my take on the erotica genre when I can get an expert who's writing it to do so instead. So take it away Tiffany....

Why Erotica? 
by Tiffany Reisz 

First of all, thank you Roni for letting me worm my wicked way onto your blog to pimp my novella to your darling readers. You are a saint, at least in public.  Thank you for letting me ramble. And yes--warning--I’m about to ramble.

I asked Roni what topics her readers might be interested in hearing about. She told me her blog readers were mostly writers so I could talk about the call from our agent Sara Megibow (she called, I said ‘yes’, I danced, I got my eyebrow pierced in celebration...the usual) or about the writing process (I sit, I type, I talk to the cats, I put on Latin music and samba in my loft when I’ve got writers block...the usual) OR I could talk about why I write erotica.


Why erotica?  First of all, let’s define erotica. It’s easiest to define erotica by what it isn’t. If a book has both a romance in it and graphic sex and you can take the graphic sex out and still have a love story, it’s romance. The graphic sex doesn’t make it erotica. If you write a book and it contains both romance and graphic sex and you take the romance out and still have your basic story, it’s erotica. Erotica is about the sexual journey of a character. As the great Tina Turner said, “What’s love got to do with it?” Nothing if it’s erotica. In can include a love story, but it doesn’t need it.

Sidebar: My business cards read, “It’s not erotica until someone gets hurt.”

So why write erotica? Because sex is awesome.  Truly unreservedly obnoxiously ridiculously gloriously wickedly awesome. Love requires patience, sacrifice, slogging through all the muck and mire of egos and money problems and child rearing and trips to the hospital.  Love isn’t pretty.  But sex is hot and powerful and life-altering.  I’ve heard people refer to sex as the icing on the cake of love. I hate this analogy.  Icing is all sugar and ridiculously bad for you.  Sex isn’t bad for you. People who have frequent sex live longer, they look younger, they are healthier.  Women who are frequently exposed to their male partner’s semen actually have more stable moods and less incidence of depression (this is real phenomenon). A bad marriage can destroy a woman’s self-esteem and sense of purpose and direction.  A great sex life can put her on the top of the world.

Let’s talk about sex some more.  I’m fascinated by it. I like sex, I love sex, I have sex, I write about sex. And God knows, I sure talk about it all the damn time. I’m the bad relative you don’t want hanging out with your kids.  I’ll put in uncensored Eminem and the Beastie Boys in my car.  I’ll swear in front of your kids and make dirty jokes.  I told my fourteen year old cousin this weekend, “Sex is awesome. Just don’t do it in high school. But if you do, use birth control. Lots of it.”  She said, “Wow, you’re the only adult who ever told me sex was good.”

Really?  I’m the only adult who has ever told a super smart beautiful young woman that sex was good?  That’s troubling.  Sex IS good. Why is that a secret? Marriage is good too. Nobody hides that fact from kids. Nobody thinks that by telling a fourteen year old girl that marriage is good, that fourteen year old is going to run out and immediately get married. So why all the secrecy? Why all the shame? I want her to know sex is good so she’ll know it’s worth taking seriously, it’s worth thinking about, it’s worth doing right. 

My first piece of writing I ever sold is coming out today at  It’s a novella entitled Seven Day Loan.  The story is simple--a Dominant lends his submissive lover to a friend for a week. Since his wife’s death, the friend has been a recluse in his home and the Dominant hopes his feisty little submissive will help the widowed friend with his grief. It’s one week of pure sex between the widower and the submissive. Feelings do get involved but this is not a love story.  It’s the story of a man who is healed by the power of sex, not the power of love.  Did I write this story to change hearts and lives? No. I wrote it to give my readers fantasy fodder so it would improve their sex lives. 

I guess I really don’t have one answer to the question of why write erotica?

Unless it’s, you know, why not? 

Tiffany Reisz lives in Lexington, Kentucky with two roommates, two dogs, two cats, and one hedgehog which doesn’t belong to anyone who lives in the house and no one is actually sure how he got there. She graduated with a B.A. in English from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and is making both her parents and her professors proud by writing erotica under her real name. She has five piercings, one tattoo, and has been arrested twice. When not under arrest, Tiffany enjoys Latin Dance, Latin Men, and Latin Verbs. She dropped out of a conservative southern seminary in order to pursue her dream of becoming a smut peddler. Johnny Depp’s aunt was her fourth grade teacher. There is little to nothing interesting about her. If she couldn’t write, she would die. 

Thanks so much to Tiffany for stopping by! Now if you want to download her novella, you can get it here or on Amazon. It's less than $3, so don't you owe yourself a little naughtiness today? :)

Now for the two winners of my and Miranda Kennealy's Win-A-Crit contest....

Congrats to Tahlia Newland and PK Hrezo!!!!

I'll be contacting the winners to see who wants which crit. Tahlia gets first choice. :) 

Thanks to everyone who entered!

So, back to today's post? Have you ever read erotica? Why or why not? And feel free to throw out any questions you have for Tiffany. This is your chance to pick a debut author's brain! :)


RWA Nationals and My Contest Win!

As most  of you know, I had the privilege of attending my first RWA Nationals a little over a week ago. The conference was amazing, fun, and overwhelming.  I highly recommend going if you ever get the chance.  I think I'm hooked now and will be saving up to attend every year.  Next year it's in New York!

Now, the amount of information to be had was daunting and I tried to attend as many workshops as possible (often forgoing getting stacks of free books from the publisher-sponsored signings in order to do so.  See how dedicated to learning I am?  :)  Okay, so I still came home with about thirty free books but I didn't miss any workshops to obtain those.)

I plan over the next few days to share as much as I can about what I learned including: lessons from Queryfest, a practical way to do a synopsis, notes on voice, digital publishing/ebooks, breaking the rules, the awesomeness of writers, and a number of other things.

But first, before I get to the meat of those topics, I just wanted to share (in case you didn't see on Twitter or notice in my sidebar) that my manuscript won FIRST PLACE in Passionate Ink's Stroke of Midnight contest!!!  Winners were selected by the senior editor at Harlequin Spice.  :) This is the second first place win for Wanderlust (and is the last contest I entered it in), so I was really excited.

Also, on that note, I actually saw the Harlequin Blaze editor who has the full of Wanderlust in one of my workshops. Despite my extremely introverted tendencies, I knew if I didn't approach her and introduce myself, I'd be kicking myself on the way home.  So, after the workshop, I stopped her to chat.

She was very gracious and actually remembered the title of my manuscript without me mentioning it (so I thought that was a good thing). And though I told her I wasn't asking about status (because I'm not one of those crazy conference stalkers), that I just wanted to say hi and let her know about my contest win, she did let me know that I'm still in her to be read pile and that she hopes to get to it in the next few months.

So, it was good news (not rejected!) and bleh news (more waiting.)  But I'll take more waiting if that's what's needed. We're going on nine months since they requested the full, so even though that seems interminable in my own Roni-time, it's really not that long in this industry.

So, all around, the conference was a terrific experience and totally fed my writer soul.  If you ever get the chance to go to a conference, even a smaller, local one, I say go!  Yes, you can learn a tremendous amount online and (if you're like me) that saves you having to push past your shyness.  But nothing can substitute for the feeling you get being surrounded by other writers and talking to people who truly UNDERSTAND this crazy existence.

*And for those of you who care, the picture above is of me with some of the members of my local RWA group at the conference.  From left to right: Michelle Welsh, Kim Quinton, Me, Jerrie Alexander, Marsha West, author Nikki Duncan, my bestest conference buddy Jamie Wesley, author Shayla Black, and author/blogger Heather Long.

Have you gone to any local or national conferences?  What was your experience?  If you haven't gone to one, besides the cost, what are your concerns?

**Today's Theme Song**
"Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" - Fall Out Boy
(player in sidebar, take a listen)


WIP Wednesday: Submissions, Crit Groups, and Nashville


I received an update on my submission to Harlequin this week, so I thought this would be a perfect time for a WIP Wednesday.  I haven't done one in a long while and there are a number of things that could stand for a little update love.  So here we go...

My Wanderlust Submission

I queried Harlequin Blaze eight months ago.  Three months later they requested my full and told me to expect a 3-5 month wait on turnaround.  I will hit the five month mark in a about a week.  So, when I won the Great Expectations contest (and got a recommendation from the Harlequin editor who judged the contest), I sent a follow-up letter (Harlequin does everything by snail mail) and settled in to wait again.

This week I received the terrifying soul-sucking bane of my existence self-addressed stamped envelope.  My husband handed it to me with that look - like he was preparing his I-love-you-and-you're-awesome-no-matter-what-some-editor-says speech.  So, I tore open the letter and--thank the heavens--it was only an update.  *phew*  The editor congratulated me on the contest win and assured me that I'm on top of her to be read pile.  So, I need all  of you to send positive thoughts in Canada's direction (where their offices are) that the read goes well.

My Critique Group

After feeling like a literary agent for a week, reading through all the contest entries, we have chosen not one but two new members for our group!  The amount of talented people who applied to the contest was awesome, so it was not an easy decision.  But I am excited to welcome Suzanne and Katrina to our little group!

The Beta Club

I'm on the fence about whether or not I should continue the Tues/Thur Beta Club feature here on the blog.  Comments have been dropping off and yesterday the number of comments was downright dismal.  And that was not due to the entry--which was a delight to read.  I know putting yourself up for public critique is difficult enough, but it's even harder when you put yourself out there and then you get no comments.  So I don't want to put authors through that if they are not getting a decent payoff from it.  And I don't want this to just be about me giving someone a critique.  The variety of opinions is what makes the feature so helpful to authors.  So if everyone is tiring of the feature, that's fine.  We'll move on.  If not, then let me know that too.  (Either way, if you have already submitted to the Beta Club, you will get a crit from me.  If I do decide to discontinue the feature, I will just send the crit to you privately.)

My Current WIPs

I'm 41k into my erotic romance.  I still think I'm a little nuts to do this dual timeline thing, but I feel like it's what the story needs, so I'm striding on in my insanity.  I'm not sure how long this one is going to be, but at 40k, I figure I'm at least halfway through.  So yay for that.

My contemporary romance WIP is at 18k and I'm starting it with my crit group.  I'm hoping to get the other WIP fully drafted before diving headlong back into this one.  As I discussed on Monday, drafting two at once is a major challenge for my one-track mind.

RWA Nationals

As many of you know, I recently signed up to attend RWA Nationals in Nashville, which I was very excited about.  Unfortunately, the city of Nashville have suffered a devastating flood--which has also ruined the Gaylord Opryland hotel, where our conference was going to be held.  So, right now, things are up in the air.  RWA is looking to move it somewhere else if they can.  But they book these things ten years in advance and it's a big convention, so not an easy task.  Hopefully they don't cancel it altogether.  But more importantly, I hope you will all keep the people of Nashville in your thoughts.  Having grown up in New Orleans, I know how horrible flooding can be, so I hope the city can get on its feet soon.  And speaking of New Orleans, please send positive thoughts to the Gulf Coast as well with that terrible oil spill.

Alright, I think that's all the updates!  Sorry for the mishmash, but I wanted to make sure I hit all these topics.  

So, how is your WIP going?  Do you have any submissions out there that you're waiting on?  What's your feeling about the Beta Club--nix it or keep going?

**Today's Theme Song**
"Everything" - Buckcherry
(player in sidebar, take a listen)



The Big Thirty


Yesterday I hit one of those decade milestones, I said goodbye to my twenties and hello to my thirties. I have to admit I did have a brief freak out moment--like wait, when did this happen? But then I decided I need to be thankful for what the twenties gave me to and excited about what the thirties might hold.

In my twenties I...
  • Completed a Masters degree

  • Met and married the love of my life

  • Experienced the joy of motherhood
  • Lost someone close to me and learned that I need to appreciate every day I have with the people I love
  • Lived in four different cities, bought four houses, sold three, and moved six times (whew!)
  • Worked in two different careers
  • Saw my beloved LSU Tigers win two national football championships
  • Rediscovered my passion for writing and completed two novels.
So looking back, although there were some sad moments, the twenties were very good to me. I hope that the thirties are just as good if not better. Maybe as the next decade clicks over to 40, I'll be able to look back and see the launch of my writing and publishing career. Let's hope so.
Alright so in honor of my birthday, I'm giving you guys a few gifts. Well, not really. They're free, but it's the thought that counts, right? Here are some freebies I found on the web.
17, yes 17!, free ebooks from Harlequin---no strings attached. (You can get PDF if you don't have an Ereader) There's everything from straight up romance to suspense to paranormal. Plus, an extra from their new Harlequin Teen line.
Writing classes online by author Candace Havens. She offers great information and it's all completely free. (Of course, you are nice writers so make sure if you sign up you also buy one of her books in appreciation--she writes paranormal romance.)
Now, if you're now feeling guilt that you didn't get me anything for my big day, you have the opportunity to give me the best gift of all--a comment or a follow. And if you're someone who reads this but never says hi, now is a great time to de-lurk--a happy birthday is the easiest comment of all. :)
Alright, now for my daily questions: What are your goals for your next decade? What decade has been your favorite so far? Or, what have you accomplished in the last ten years that you never thought you would do?
**Today's Theme Song**
"100 Years" - Five For Fighting
(player in sidebar--go ahead, take a listen, this song always gets to me)