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Multicultural Romance

This is a guest post by Raven Scott on her inspiration for writing multi-cultural romance novels.

I enjoy writing multi-cultural books because they reflect the landscape of a modern, global society. I also think people are more similar than they are different in all the ways that matter, particularly when it comes to love and emotional connections. Their cultural backgrounds and life history add to the individual uniqueness of the characters, and create relatable depth to a contemporary romance.

51SDA82Xo3L._SX301_BO1,204,203,200_The Fortis Series is about three former government agents with elite military training, who also come from different cultural backgrounds. They are best friends and business partners in Fortis, a full-solution security firm. Hard as Ice is the first book in the series, and is about Evan DaCosta, a former CIA agent born and raised in the United States, but of Brazilian descent. In the second book, Hard and Fast, Lucas Johnson is African-American and an ex-Secret Service agent. The third book in the series will feature Samuel Mackenzie, a Scottish-born, ex-British MI5 agent. 

When creating a new character, I am most inspired by men and women in my own life who display behavioral or personality traits I admire. I also try to infuse the weaknesses and flaws we all battle with too, so readers can identify with their own struggles.

I’m a big fan of action, suspense and drama, be it in books, movies or television shows. I’m motivated by great writers who create stories that pull you into an intricately woven plot, get you emotionally invested in the characters, and keep you guessing right up until the very end.

Mary Jo Putney's Romance Favorites

IndexThere are so many lovely books to look forward too! I'm enjoying Anne Gracie's Chance Sister Series. The Spring Bride came out several months ago, so I have months to wait for The Summer Bride about the last of the four "sisters by chance."

Sharon Shinn is one of my favorite fantasy authors and Jeweled Fire, next in her 51p+ovgtAWL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Elemental Blessings Series, will be released at the beginning of November. Her Archangel is brilliant, a classic of romantic fantasy. She writes great characters and great romance, so of course I always love her stories!

Last but hardly least is Lois McMaster Bujold, she is one of my all time favorite authors. Her fantasy novel Curse of Chalion is brilliant, I've reread it many times, and I love her Vorkosigan Saga (science fiction) just as much. I'm really looking forward to her new Vorkosigan book, Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

As a reader, I'm as much a fangirl as anyone else. I wish my favorite writers all wrote faster! But it's worth waiting for new books I know I'll love.

 Mary Jo Putney is a New York Times bestselling author of historical romance and contemporary romance novels.

Football: My Drug of Choice

This is a guest post by Desiree Holt on why she loves sports romances.

For most of my adult life, I was a casual football fan, following my alma mater—the University of Michigan—and nobody else. Then I bought a book by Frank and Lynn Barrett, How To Watch a Football Game, and that was the beginning. I sat down in front of the television, looked at the game, and thought Holy cow! I understand what’s going on. It was better than chocolate and pizza combined…and the players. Wow! To a romance writer, they are both the frosting and filling of cake. They’re my heroes, the ultimate alphas I want to take home and keep forever. The men of my dreams, modern gladiators just flawed enough to be likable.

51G5cM9w7wL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_In Texas, where I live, football is a religion—especially high school football. Towns are passionate about their teams, the intensity building throughout the season. Cheerleaders scream, marching bands play, fans stomp their feet on the bleachers. By the final game of the season, the stadiums are packed, the crowd noise deafening. But what happens to the heroes on a championship team when the tumult and shouting fade?

Thanks to Kensington Publishing, the Game On series was born from these musings. It follows a team of high school football heroes fifteen years later. What have they done with their lives?

Forward Pass introduces Joe Reilly, golden boy quarterback retired by an injury, and the woman who has loved him forever. Line of Scrimmage tells of Jake Russell, devastated by a career-ending injury and harboring deep secrets. In Pass Interference,we meet Rafe Ortiz, who retired by choice, and get to explore his contentious relationship with the team owner’s daughter.

This series is a work of love. I’m glad the first book is out just in time for football season. Enjoy!

Exclusive Excerpt: "A Mad Zombie Party"

Fall is in the air…which means Halloween is coming…which means zombies soon will rise! What better way to celebrate the season than with an exclusive excerpt from book 4 of Gena Showalter’s New York Times best-selling White Rabbit Chronicles series, A Mad Zombie Party? Read on!

MadzombiepartyAnother finger pokes through the dirt…soon an entire hand. There’s a dull gray tint to the
skin, and my heart leaps with excitement.

The creature sits up and shakes her head, clumps of dirt falling from her tangled salt-andpepper
hair. I smile with anticipation, until I note the open wounds on her forehead and
cheeks, each revealing the rotted muscle and splintered bone underneath. First time risers
usually appear human, their only visual tells red eyes and graying skin. Why the change?
She locks on me, her lips curling up, showcasing yellowed teeth and thick black saliva.
Kill now, ask questions later.

She swipes a hand at me and snaps her teeth.

“Sorry, honey, but I’m not on the menu.” I leap off the tombstone and end up where I want
to be—in the circle of her arms. Mindless with hunger, she latches on to my waist to yank
me closer, but I’m already swinging my swords. The blades crisscross at her neck before I’m
in any danger, and her head falls backward, black goo spraying from her severed artery.
The civilians continue playing their silly game.

Despite the decapitation, both the zombie head and body remain animated, arms clawing
at me, teeth snapping at me. Time to finish her off for good. I’ve been fighting the undead
for so long, summoning my fire—my dýnamis—is as easy as breathing. By the time I sheath
one of my swords and flatten my hand over her chest, flames are crackling all the way to my
wrist. One minute passes, two… Dýnamis sinks past her skin, into her veins, traveling
through her entire body. Then, suddenly, she explodes, dark ash floating through the air.

I move on to her head, making sure her teeth are firmly planted in the ground before I
perform the same “fire up and wait” routine. When a second round of ash floats away on a
cool spring breeze, I sheath my other sword and slap my hands together in a job well done.
I have to walk through the circle of civilians to get to the next name on my list of AS
victims. Each boy has paired off with a girl, the couples making out on top of blankets,
uncaring about the potential audience. Longing mixes with envy, cutting at me. I haven’t had
a “boyfriend” in forever. River is so protective—was so protective, I correct with a twist in
my gut. Anyone interested in me quickly decided I wasn’t worth the hassle…but usually only
after I’d given up the goods. At least, I like to tell myself River is the reason I’ve been
rejected so many times, and not my mountain of personality flaws.

Now River wouldn’t care if I decided to screw anything breathing…or hey, anything not

I never should have betrayed his trust in me, never should have tried to save his life by
signing the death warrant of Ali Bell, the girlfriend of a rival crew’s leader. But trading one
life for another had seemed acceptable at the time. If only that’s how things had gone down.
Ali survived, but two innocents had not. Kat Parker and Dr. Richard Ankh. I’m not sure I’ll
ever be able to forgive myself for the part I played in their deaths.
Scratch that. I will never forgive myself.

A grunt sounds at my left, and I whip around to discover two other zombies have risen.
Two zombies not from graves/names on my list. Well, hell. As I once again unsheathe my
short swords, my heart slamming against my ribs, I study my newest opponents. Two
males. One is morbidly obese, while the other is short and squat. Both have a grayish tint,
like the female, the same advanced stage of rot.

They race toward me without stumbling, their bones not yet brittle enough to break.
I dart to the right, their gazes alert enough to follow me. Good. I keep going, drawing the
two farther away from the civilians…but I don’t realize until too late that there’s a small
headstone in my path. I trip, land on my ass and lose my breath. I’m laid flat for only a
second, maybe two, but it’s enough. The pair dive for me. I somersault backward, coming up
with my swords extended, ripping through each creature’s torso. Multiple organs plop to
the ground, but neither Z seems to notice or care that they’ve been disemboweled. They
just keep advancing.

I kick one in the groin, sending him stumbling to the side, at the same time removing the
head of the other with a single swipe of my sword. The headless wonder, now behind me,
manages to clench his fingers in my hair and yank me closer. Idiot! All he can do is paw at
me. I elbow his chest and kick back. As he, too, stumbles to the side, I hack at his left arm,
spin and hack at his right. Both limbs hit the ground with a thud.

Pressure on my boot draws my gaze. The severed head is attempting to chew through my
leather soles. I jerk my leg away and slam my sword into his ear canal, and if we were in an
episode of The Walking Dead, my favorite show despite the inaccuracies, he would be dead.
Again. But we aren’t, and he isn’t; he just keeps chomping at me. Now, at least, he’s trapped
in place. He can do no real damage while I fight the other—
A stone wall knocks me to the ground. The other zombie, back for more. I lose my grip on
my swords, air exploding from my lungs and stars winking in front of my eyes. But I manage
to hold him off, the heel of my palm planted firmly on his forehead. His legs are move
between mine, both of his hands wrapping around my neck, which he clearly hopes to use
as a snack pack.

If he were human, all I’d have to do is clasp my hands together at my midsection and
shoot them up, between his arms, at the same time placing my feet behind his ankles and
applying enough pressure to spread his legs. He would struggle for purchase and lose his
grip on me. I would then place one of my hands behind his head and smash the other
underneath his chin to close his mouth, pushing with one and pulling with the other to
create a counterforce, turning his body and allowing me to roll on top of him. I would
balance my weight on one knee, slam the heel of a hand into his nose, breaking the cartilage
and, while he writhed in pain, I would stand and stomp on his stupid face. Game over. But
he isn’t human, so I can do none of those things; his teeth would be too close to my
vulnerable skin, and he would feel no pain.

All I can do is wiggle my free hand between our bodies. There’s a dagger sheathed at my
waist…there! Once the weapon is free, I wrench it up and jab it into his neck, again and
again. Black goo sprays my flesh, burning me, blistering. Steam curls through the air. When
his spine is the only thing holding his head in place, I drop the blade and rearrange my
hands, placing one behind his head while smashing the other under his chin, careful to
avoid his teeth—looks like I can use one of my moves, after all. With a push and a pull, the
counterforce snaps his stupid head from his stupid body.

Panting, I toss the brand-new boxing bag several yards away and fight my way from
beneath his heavy weight. Dizziness sweeps over me, but this is not the time for a break. I
summon dýnamis and place my palm over the zombie’s back. In my weakened state, my fire
is not as potent and the zombie’s metamorphosis from rot to ash takes longer than usual,
but it does happen.

I push up onto shaky legs and stumble forward, relieved, searching for the head I threw.
Gotta rinse and repeat. Only, I come face-to-face with more than a dozen pairs of red,
glowing eyes—and every single set is locked on me.

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How Romance Covers Have Evolved over the Years

This is a guest post by Michelle Willingham, who is the author of more than thirty historical romance novels and novellas. She had the opportunity to go behind the scenes at a cover-art shoot for one of her own books. To learn more about the experience, visit her website at

Michelle’s next book, Warrior of Fire, will be available in December 2015.

Romance novel covers are continually transforming during each decade, and it’s always fascinating to see The House of Scissors
the evolution of art over time. Covers that were popular during the 1970s are nothing like the romance covers of 2015. The House of the Scissors by Isobel Chace is an example of a 1974 cover. The heroine’s face is enlarged, and the photographer hero appears to be taking a picture of her ear. Three other sketches hover around the fashion model heroine’s head, and the back cover copy begins with, Why couldn’t he see she wasn’t a child?

Wolf at the DoorThe romance trope of an older hero and a younger heroine continued through the 1970s and early ’80s. Here’s a cover from 1981 titled Wolf at the Door by Victoria Gordon, where the hero appears significantly older and has gray hair.

According to cover artist Robert Papp, “The evolution of cover art has been insane. I am old enough to remember dropping off still-wet canvases at art directors’ offices. Back then, the illustrator was given much more time to create the art. Sometimes there was enough time to read the entire book in order to come up with a great concept. We were taught in school that, while looking at a book in stores, the reader must grasp the concept, characters and a bit of the story in 3 to 5 seconds. In the old days, you could “sit” with a painting to see if there was anything needed to create better art.”

The painted covers remained a trend throughout the 1980s when two different types of covers Defy Not the Heartemerged —clinch covers and floral covers. The model Fabio Lanzoni graced the covers of many popular historical romances, such as Johanna Lindsey’s Defy Not the Heart. Those covers suggested stories of forbidden love, and the clinch cover became a classic trend for hotter romances.

VowsCovers for the sweeter romances of the 1980s often involved flowers or hearts with no couple at all, as on Vows by LaVyrle Spencer. This brought romances into the mainstream with little distinction between contemporary and historical romance.

 As the decade ended and the ’90s covers emerged, more floral treatments continued. These offered a softer focus on the romance for contemporary romances, as on Nora Roberts’s Born in FireBorn in Fire

Another change, beginning in the late ’90s and moving into the new millennium, was to offer more diversity on book covers. Authors Beverly Jenkins, Brenda Jackson, and Jeannie Lin wrote stories featuring African American and Asian heroes and heroines.

Just DesertsThe new millennium brought other cover art trends. Taming the HighlanderNearly headless heroes and heroines left a good deal up to the imagination of the readers. Take Terri Brisbin’s Taming the Highlander, for example, which features a Highland hero whose face is hidden.

Paranormal romances also featured this same style of cover. Larissa Ione’s book, Ecstasy Unveiled, reveals a shadowed, shirtless hero. Half-clad heroes became common for many subgenres of romance, including contemporary and historical. In Ecstasy Unveiledaddition, the painted look that was common to so many covers was replaced by photographic art in contemporary and paranormal romance. Historical covers often still received a painted treatment, to avoid appearing too modern.

Cover artist Carrie Divine of Seductive Designs points out that finding the right Warrior of Icephotograph for a cover has become an even greater challenge. “You would think that since there are so many options, that it would equate to millions of great options, but the really good images are the ones that you see over and over again.”

Moving into 2015, covers are revealing extreme close-up photos of heroes and heroines. Since ebooks are now such a strong force within the book marketplace, covers need to become more prominent in a thumbnail image. My July cover, Warrior of Ice, features the hero from the waist up and little else.

GreyA recent erotic romance release, Grey, by E L James, features an even more extreme close-up photo of only the hero’s eye.

Harlequin art director Krista Oliver has a challenge each month, given the volume of covers required, to stay within the budget while still creating beautiful covers. “I always want to raise the bar on period accuracy; emotional conveyance and authenticity; and beautiful, accurate background detail. I think of each cover like a movie poster in terms of function. It has to communicate the genre instantly.”

As covers keep competing to attract a reader’s eye in the digital marketplace, new trends keep emerging.

Narcissists, Misogynists and Criminals….Oh, My!

This is a guest post by romance authors Laurelin Paige and Kayti McGee about men we love to hate.

A few words from the ladies before their chat: In our co-written contemporary romantic comedy, our hero, Blake Donovan, is an egotistical, self-centered, chauvinist who we can’t help but love. Which got us thinking about the many other bad boys in books that we have fallen helplessly for despite—and sometimes even because of—their awfulness.

KAYTI MCGEE: Definitely a first to come to mind is Naz from JM Darhower’s Monster in His Eyes.  I mean,  Monster in his eyeshe kills people for a living. And also has the best seats in the house for fancy Italian dinners, which is basically all I ever want out of life. But he has a soft side, too. The not-quite reformed bad boy is possibly my favorite kind.

LAURELIN PAIGE: He kills, but it's with and out of passion. The way he uses those skills to be a lover as well as a murderer...well, that's talent.

Another egocentric jerk that we book bonded over, Kayti, is Matt Sky from M. Pierce’s Night Owl trilogy. Not unlike our own Blake, Matt's outside arrogance is just a mask for what he doesn't want to show the world. In Matt's case, it's a very complicated, deep and tortured soul that you want to nurture as much as you want him to do bad things to you in the bedroom.

41CAIgJVNUL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_KAYTI: That's exactly it. You want to slap him and hug him all at once. Someone else I want to slap, but would never have the audacity to hug: Søren from Tiffany Reisz's Original Sinners series. He's so incredibly arrogant and demanding! But the way he loves his companion Nora, and his best friend Kingsley is amazing. And he plays piano, and rescues depressed teenagers.

Kingsley, though, from the same series- now there's a guy whose soft side is well-hidden. He's a former fighter in the French Foreign Legion who loves to proposition strangers in the back of his Rolls Royce. It takes a couple books to see that all of that is the defense he's built around a broken heart.

LAURELIN: Yes! Love Soren and Kingsley.

I don't know about you, but my love for these types of characters goes way back. I am a huge fan of the brooding and mysterious Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre and Maxim De Winters from Rebecca. The storylines in those romances might have been less graphic, but underneath the proper language and the estates, they are very much the same horrid men that I love today. And whether it’s spelled out or not, both Mr. Rochester and Mr. De Winters exude the same intense sexuality.

KAYTI: Intense and mysterious! I love mysterious. And if we're talking Original Book Boyfriends, I know we  41wxDqcP3UL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_ both loved S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I think we loved different characters, though, I remember being utterly entranced with Dally. He was such a tough guy but I just knew I could save him with my teenage love.

LAURELIN: YES! Actually, I had the biggest crush on Dally. But also Johnny because he was a good kid in the wrong life, you know? One more before we close out, Kayti. I say we have to mention one who is not a romance hero—we are both very taken with Severus Snape from Harry Potter. Am I right?

KAYTI: You are so right. We believed in his innocence from the start—not a popular opinion. But it turned out his brutal attitude problem hid one of literature's saddest unrequited loves.

LAURELIN: I thought when we finished this list that we might have a common thread for what it is that attracts us to a bad boy, but we really don’t.

KAYTI: Yeah, we do. The common thread is that even if we know they’re bad for us, we still love them.


Who are the bad boys in books that you love? Pick up an old favorite or grab one of ours today.

Book-to-Movie Magic with Julie Kagawa

Julie Kagawa, New York Times bestselling author of Talon and Rogue talks about her favorite books turned movies and her hopes for her own series, The Talon Saga.

What makes a great book and what makes a great movie are not always the same thing, but sometimes a book translates so perfectly to film it is pure magic. These are a few of my very favorite books that became incredible films and why they worked so well.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien: I love fantasy, and everything about this series was magical—the Shire, Helm's Deep, Minas Tirith, Mordor (one does not simply walk into Mordor). Everything in the books came to life on screen in beautiful and spectacular detail. The characters were well done, the graphics were well done…everything was well done. You felt for Frodo and Sam in their endless trek to Mount Doom with Gollum. You cheered on Gimli and Legolas as they fought through waves of enemies while bantering at each other the whole time. You really, really wanted Aragorn and Arwen to be together in the end (or I did, anyway). The characters, settings, action scenes, graphics and storyline all tied together perfectly to make this trilogy my absolute favorite book-to-film series.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner: The author’s storytelling is so cinematic it was easy to visualize the story unfolding as I read the book, so I was not surprised when it did become a movie. This one also has a large ensemble cast with characters for everyone to love and hate, and the way the filmmakers created the maze world and its frightening creatures felt very real. The Grievers were especially well done—dangerous and terrifying—and just like the book, the body count is fairly high so you’re constantly on edge. The action and effects are balanced by character development and twists that never stop, and I loved both the book and the film.

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling: The Lord of the Rings trilogy might be my favorite book-to-film series, but for pure magic, nothing can rival the world of Harry Potter. From owls to house elves, flying broomsticks, hippogriffs, wands, dragons, magic mirrors, potions, invisibility cloaks, kindly yet powerful wizards and evil dark lords, Rowling has captured the imagination of both kids and grownups worldwide, and the filmmakers did a wonderful job of capturing some of that magic, as well. The graphics were spectacular, and the creatures, be it a dragon or house elf, seemed completely real. But the real magic was, of course, with Harry and his two companions. You literally watch the characters grow and change throughout the series, and by the time the final battle with Voldemort rolls around, you have invested so much in Harry, Ron, Hermione and everyone, that every death and loss affects you on a personal level. (Who else shed a tear when Dobby died?) It was an amazing series, both in print and film, and it won't be forgotten.

The scope of what can be done in movie format has grown so much even over my lifetime and I am so excited to have my modern-fantasy dragon series, The Talon Saga, under option by Universal Pictures. Seeing my dragons come to life onscreen would be a dream come true, and I hope that viewers will feel the same magic I did when watching some of my favorite books perfectly captured on the big screen.

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Big City Detectives | Chicago

Chicago._V310632722._UX300_[1]For the month of September we have been crisscrossing the nation, visiting Los Angeles, New Orleans, Chicago, and Seattle talking about the uniqueness of Crime Fiction from each of these places, and learning about the fictional detectives who work those streets.

Chicago, The Windy City.  

Named year after year in numerous travel publication lists of best cities to visit, it is easily one of the most spectacular places in the world.  There is something special about exploring the neighborhoods, having a meal in one of the numerous world-class and cozy local restaurants, catching a game, and studying the famed architecture, that feels so authentic and specific.  Chicago is like no place else in the world. 

Here in the office a quick game of word association revealed that most of our editors skipped over words usually synonymous with present-day Chicagoland, and moved straight to the 1920’s Gangster Era.  And can they be blamed? After all, when asked to “name one gangster” the most common reply is Chicago’s own Al Capone.  For better or worse, this time in American history is scorched into the generational knowledge of all American’s and teases or imagination even today. 

Perhaps it’s this history of well executed crime, or maybe it’s just our love of trench coats and hats (necessary for life in Chicagoland) but there is something enduring about detectives from Chi-town. Here are some of our editor’s favorites, from across eras in history:

  • Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy: Although not specifically  named as Chicago,  that “unnamed Midwest town” is Chicago enough for us.  One of the best and earliest examples of police procedurals, the endlessly satisfying Tracy stories made his gadgets, toughness, brains, and no nonsense attitude benchmarks for the genre.
  • Sara Paretsky’s V.I. Warshawski: It doesn’t get much more Chicago  than growing up under the shadow of the old steel mills on the South Side. Warshawsi’s father was a cop; her mother a refugee from Italy.  Restless, athletic, and full of energy, after a brief stint as a Public Defender she decided to be a PI and thus our love affair with this talented investigator began. 
  • Sean Chercover’s Ray Dudgeon:  A former journalist, Dudgeon is committed to the truth and hates corruption.  Like many before him, his honesty ultimately brings him into conflict with those who operate outside his moral code.  The man knows how to dig and ask questions, and isn’t that what we need the most in a good detective?
  • Max Allan Collin’s Nate Heller: The first book in Collins’ famed Heller series, True Detective, follows Heller in 1939 Chicago as he is forced to quit being a cop because of the constant corruption.   He takes on his first case working for….wait for it….Al Capone.  An ex-cop trying to do good while technically working for the mob? That’s the Chicago that keeps us turning the pages.    

Moïra Fowley-Doyle's Inspiration for "The Accident Season"

Teen and Young Adult author Moïra Fowley-Doyle shares her inspiration for her popular novel, "The Accident Season," on sale now.

51O7bHCF5XL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Sometimes you’re a teenage girl wading fully-clothed across a lake in summer while your friends pretend to duck you under. Sometimes you’re a teenage girl at twilight, drinking whiskey on a derelict water tower. Sometimes you’re a teenage girl walking alone along a beach at 5am, tears in your eyes. Sometimes you’re a teenage girl in a deserted park in the middle of the night. You think you’d drown or fall, you think you’d get kidnapped or swept away to sea, and plenty do, but most of the time they don’t. It’s enough to make you half-believe that there might be something out there looking out for teenage girls.

The first time I broke a bone I was seventeen and it was one o’clock in the morning. I was tipsy on honeyed mead and climbing into the dungeon of the ruins of a medieval castle. The second time I broke a bone I was nineteen and strapped to a zipline between two trees. Flying to a halt I was too short to slow down with my feet so I slammed face-first into the metal and broke my nose. The third and fourth bones I broke were two toes. I was twenty-one and two weeks away from a ballet exam. I landed badly from a pirouette on pointe and felt the crack. The fifth time I broke a bone was last year, midway through the final revisions for The Accident Season. I was onstage at the Rocky Horror Picture Show in a corset and heels and I slipped on spilled rice and broke my wrist.

I didn’t write The Accident Season because I’m accident-prone (although I am) or because I did a lot of stupid stuff as a teenager (although I did), I wrote it because it’s exactly the kind of book my stupid-stuff-doing accident-prone teenage self would have relished. It has tarot cards and family secrets, antique typewriters and forbidden love, masquerade masks and abandoned houses, plenty of whiskey and magic realism. It’s dark and it’s dreamy and writing it reminded me of the slightly surreal and sometimes dangerous feeling of being a teenage girl.

In The Accident Season, seventeen-year-old Cara and her family of misfits become mysteriously accident prone for one month of every year. Cara’s mother believes it’s a family curse but her sister Alice thinks it’s just coincidence. Whether she truly believes in it herself or not, Cara still scales gates to break into abandoned houses or hangs out on the banks of the river with her wild and witchy best friend. Whether it’s a curse or just coincidence, even a few broken bones won’t cure her of occasionally doing stupid stuff.

Alongside this month of misfortunes there is a possibly-missing girl from school who appears in all of Cara’s photographs; the beautiful anxiety of a first and forbidden love; friendship and jealousy; and a masked Halloween ball in an abandoned house in which the accidents – whether curse, coincidence or the result of recklessness – reveal the secrets Cara and her family members hide from each other and from themselves.

Sometimes you’re a teenage girl keeping secrets. Sometimes you’re a teenage girl in love. Sometimes (if rarely) you’re a teenage girl planning a masked Halloween ball in an abandoned house on the last day of the accident season, when the truth will leave marks like a bruise – whether you’re ready to face it or not.

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Huntley Fitzpatrick's Writing Process

Teen and Young Adult author Huntley Fitzpatrick discusses the process of writing her popular novels. Her latest, "The Boy Most Likely To," is available now on Kindle.

510ReKsH0eL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_My writing process? Yeah, I should get around to having one someday soon.

My husband said “Tell them stress is your muse.” My kids’ advice boiled down to “Make stuff up.”**

**the older ones didn’t say “stuff”

Here’s the truth. If I’ve got a process—and for the sake of argument and this blog, let’s assume I do--it’s, er, fluid. One thing I’ve learned from writing several books, as with parenting a few more than several children—is that a lot of times how it plays out has more to do with that particular one than  any cleverness on your own part.

My first book, My Life Next Door, poured out.  From the start I knew where to go, as if I were following one of the winding, looping strings my parents used to tie for me to lead to Christmas presents. The characters—all of them—spoke in my head, loud, clear, even articulate—though usually at 2 a.m..  I would spring up from bed to tap the dialogue onto the computer before the words faded. I scribbled down descriptions of the ocean, the smell of river water in my home town, the sweet weight of someone you love’s arm draped around your waist on any bit of paper I found anywhere. I combed my journals for that moment when you “just knew”—that you were in love,  that your parents didn’t have all the answers, that you had wandered from your best self, that your losses were restored. Out of all this came My Life Next Door—a book I began writing for the sometimes lonely teenager I was, which became a book about the family—and the self—you find once you go looking for where you really belong.

Just in case I’d thought I had the process down—or an actual process at all--What I Thought was True had a different trajectory. The string I followed led out into the forest.: I often doubled back or cut it and followed an entirely different path. The hero switched personality—name, hair color, backstory, everything-- four times. The heroine’s history transformed and reformed again. The incident which led to conflict between them changed so many times I lost count.  Only the story I set out to tell—that the path you are on—and the one you’ve already walked—can change depending on how how you see it—remained true to the original idea. Whoa. I’m just now seeing that the writing process echoed the theme. Cool. Note to self: Be more conscious of this…er, someday.

The Boy Most Likely To, like its characters (got a theme going here. Excellent!)  trudged through wrong directions and road blocks and no trespassing signs (I didn’t think YA could hold a few of the things I wanted to cover) before it made its way to the end. But I lifted my fingers from typing “the end” with a sigh of satisfaction, relief, and actual accomplishment.

Even better, ready to face whatever winding road Book Four involves. I don’t have a process, I don’t have a map. But I’m coming to know I do have at least a compass…the book I set out to find…and I’ll get there.


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