Tag Archives: Craft of Writing

What inspired my books @TinaGerow

Coveted Dreams JonVJonesCoveted Dreams JonVJones

I remember stumbling on a link to Jon V Jones‘ website on My Space – yup – it was that long ago…LOL! My first book, Into a Dangerous Mind had just been published and my mind was wide open for new book ideas. And then I clicked on the link which would change my life! 🙂

This picture captured my imagination and this beautiful woman with large black wings who was slowly turning to stone became Ariel in Stone Maiden.  I started thinking about women who turned to stone. What world would that be, why would this happen….and my writer brain kicked in from there.

From this picture came a race of female gargoyle warriors created by God during the Crusades to protect those who were being unjustly persecuted in Her name. Now it’s modern day and these 4 are the last gargoyles left of a large army. So what do 4 women who have fought and protected people for 900 years do in modern day Texas?? They hire themselves out as body guards!!

But when the Angel Gabriel asks them to protect a country music songwriter who is being targeted by all the local paranormal beasties they find themselves embroiled in prophesy and using their cunning and fighting skills once again. That simple spark of an idea from that beautiful picture became The Maiden Series. So I owe that series idea to Jon V Jones!

I was recently looking for the picture above – Coveted Dreams and couldn’t find it on his site since it’s an older one. I contacted him and asked him about it and he dug out the link and sent it to me. He’s a REALLY nice guy and I sent him Stone Maiden and Fire Maiden and when I eventually get to write Ice Maiden and Chaos Maiden I told him I’d send those too. And now I have a beautiful copy of Coveted Dreams to frame and hang up! 🙂 I’m mesmerized by his art and I’m sure there are more great book ideas lurking in there!!

For The Sister of Darkness Series I wrote for Berkley, that idea spark came from the history channel. I don’t remember the name of the show but it was talking about how they think Lilith was considered the original succubus.  I had written succubus characters before in the Maiden Series and had a Succubus serial killer in Vortex Blues, so I was already sort of fascinated by that species. And really, let’s be honest, if you’re writing a paranormal erotic – what better character could you have than several succubus? Talk about motivation to have lots of sex – uh….you die if you don’t have it? Yup – great characters for an erotic. Throw in some Archangels some demons and the 3 horsemen of the apocalypse and you have a story about 4 Succubus in Hell’s Version of the Witness Relocation Program. Berkley only picked up the first two books, Seducing the Succubus and The Demon & The Succubus, but as I get time in between paying projects I’ll write the last two in this series too.

Two orphaned series (Maiden & Sisters of Darkness) means I’ll have to get those written as soon as I can!

My Seduction Series started because I wanted to try my hand at writing erotic. Before that my work was purely sensual. My buddy and the lady who started my critique group, The Butterscotch Martini Girls, Brit Blaise was already writing erotics and doing quite well. Multi published and kick ass in her genre. So when I said I wanted to try it out she was more than happy to help me. So I searched for an idea that would give my characters plenty of motivation to have sex. After all, I like plot with my sex, not just mindless sex. If a hero and heroine are being chased by bad guys and stop to have sex, they deserve to die a horrible death. That makes them what we call TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) lol…

So after watching a show on the Salem Witch Trials, followed by Practical Magic, my twisted mind came up with a race of otherworldly witches whose life force is sexual energy. LOTS of motivation for my characters to have LOTS of sex!!

I wrote the first chapter and gave it to Brit Blaise to critique and her feedback was that I needed to have the heroine masturbate in that first chapter to get the story moving…LOL! I laughed at that but took her advice! And the first book in that series, Ceremony of Seduction went into a second printing and is my best selling book of all time. 🙂 So I owe my Cassie Ryan success to Brit Blaise!! Thanks, girl 🙂

Take It Off was actually written for an anthology with 3 other authors that never happened so it was published as a standalone book. At that time it was the hottest Tina Gerow book (it was pre-Cassie Ryan) It was just a fun idea that came to me after watching some episodes of Cat House on HBO 🙂

A woman and a man have a hot one night stand but feel a definite connection and promise to “call.” Her mother has a health emergency and calls her daughter back to run the family’s legal Nevada brothel while her mother recovers. He goes to a bachelor party at that same legal Nevada brothel and assumptions abound on both sides.:) That was VERY fun to write!

Vortex Blues was sparked by a simple weekend trip to Sedona.  Sedona is known for its energy vortexes, which lends itself very well to paranormal.  So add in a Succubus Serial killer a Cop who isn’t warm and fuzzy with “paranormals” and a sexy Succubus who has to help him track down the killer and you have a really fun story! 🙂

My latest Tina Gerow release, Sleeping With Shadows, was sparked when I was contacted out of the blue by my first boyfriend, Phillip. Oddly enough we met when I filled in for the Sun City orchestra pit for Guys & Dolls. Their clarinet player was out and they called my high school band director who suggested me to fill in. Phillip and I literally clicked at first sight. And believe it or not I was 14 and he was 19. He was in the Navy and my grandfather, who was a SeaBee in the Navy, got Phillip’s word of honor that he wouldn’t do anything he shouldn’t with me 🙂 And he didn’t. Although I did get my first kiss and some great memories from Phillip.

Life happened and after dating for a year or so I didn’t see him again until I was in college and 21. We clicked again with that strong connection snapping back into place, but I was already moving to Texas to be a band director and moving in with my first husband (well, he wasn’t my husband yet…) Although I admit I was extremely tempted to scrap those plans and explore things with Phillip. We had always had this unexplainable connection and I think it scared both of us a little. So once again we drifted apart. Then one day out of the blue I got an email from him. He had found me on Classmates. I was married to my current hubby, Jon, and back in Phoenix. He came to Arizona often to see his grandma and once again we both felt that electric connection but were both happily married to others, so nothing came of it but a renewed friendship. Anyway – that ignited my writer’s brain and it became Sleeping With Shadows, a reincarnation with a twist story. Which explores that intense connection and the idea of soul mates and finding them in our many lifetimes. I think that’s the best book I’ve ever written and is my only self published book.

There are more books and ideas, but you get the idea. Book idea sparks come from everywhere, and writer’s brain will have me writing until my last breath 🙂 Have I mentioned how much I love my job???

Tina

60 Helpful & Snarky Tips for Writers #WritingTips @TinaGerow

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I’ve been writing seriously for publication since August 2003. I’ve spent since then collecting writing tips (not really in a document or anything) but just mentally collecting them. And since it’s my blog day I thought I would jot some of them down and share them. Some are snarky, some are amusing, but all are actually helpful 🙂 There are TONS more, but those are for another day 🙂 So enjoy and feel free to share with anyone else who might appreciate them…

And here we go…

1. Remove 99% of your exclamation points, use your words to carry the emphasis, not throwaway punctuation that distracts the reader.

2. Avoid ‘Body Parts Gone Wild’ – If a cock leaps to attention, it should have little feet and be ready to run across the room…LOL.

3. Beware of wimpy verbs that don’t give the reader a visual picture. Words like ‘put’, ‘got’, and ‘went’. Use a more descriptive verb.

4. Keep in mind that it’s your job to paint a word picture for the reader so as they read, they can see the picture you have inside your mind when writing the scene.

5. Beware of over repeated actions. If your heroine is always sighing the reader is going to want to kill her by the 10th time…seriously.

6. Make sure the action is with the character, not the body part. Fists won’t clench on their own, the character clenches his or her hands into fists.

7. If your heroine’s vagina is “weeping” there’s salve for that…LOL. Get her to the doctor! Ewwwwwwwwww!!! SO not sexy.

8. Remember even when writing that heroes usually don’t want to kiss a heroine right after she’s “swallowed” – That’s jarring for the reader.

9. Don’t use flowery writing – readers like simple writing that paints a visual picture, not something schlocky that makes them groan.

10. “Mary was scared.” = Telling. “Icy tendrils of fear raced up Mary’s spine.” = Showing. Paint a visual picture.

11. If you’re writing a sex scene and you’ve never done whatever it is you are writing about – talk to someone who has. Seriously.

12. Don’t be afraid of words – use them, but use them well. Her yawning moist cavern is just icky. Soooo not sexy. 😦

13. KNOW your reader demographic – for romance – mostly highly educated women 18-50’s. Don’t talk down to them.

14. Word choice – jizz or love juice – YUCK. Just use come. Don’t gross the reader out.

15. Usually if a sentence begins with ‘And’ or ‘But’, the ‘and’ or ‘but’ can be removed without changing the sentence and it will read better.

16. If writing anal scenes – don’t do the ‘BrokeBack Mountain” thing – sliding in with one stroke with no lube or just spit – that would HURT. Ouch!!

17. If your hero’s “member” has a head the size and color of a large plumb, he’s got medical problems and his partner will NOT be excited. Get that man to a doctor!

18. Purple prose is distracting and annoying and doesn’t help your story, it only discredits your writing in the eyes of the reader. Just say NO!

19. Watch the body parts gone wild. Eyes can’t fly across the room unless they have little wings. Gazes can though…

20. Write what you mean. If a heroine leans INTO a hero – that’s gonna hurt and require surgery – she’s probably leaning AGAINST him.

21. Get rid of “filler” words like ‘that’ and ‘just’ which don’t add much value.

22. Who vs that. If you are talking about a person – use ‘who’, if you are talking about a thing, use ‘that’

23. If the heroine’s heart clenches inside her chest and she’s short of breath, she’s not in love, she’s having a heart attack!

24. Beware of wimpy verbs that don’t give the reader a visual picture – words like ‘put’, ‘got’ and ‘went’ Use a more descriptive verb!

25. Save often and in multiple places.

26. Watch out for rolling eyes – Always reminds me of dice…LOL.

27. Avoid clichés – find a new, fresh way to say something. Make it yours. Cliches are distracting to the reader and don’t add value.

28. If your hero is ‘hard enough to drive nails’ he needs to call the number on the back of the Viagra box!! That’s not healthy! OUCH…

29. Make sure your events aren’t out of order. If someone needs to retrieve a book from a room – walking OUT of the room before grabbing the book and then walking in the room doesn’t work unless you’re Harry Potter and you can ‘spell’ the book to you or reverse time…

30. Read widely. Pay attention to writing you enjoy and writing you don’t and then figure out why.

31. If your pacing is slow and dragging – go back and make sure your conflict is big enough and difficult enough! Conflict drives pacing.

32. Try to avoid using was/ing combos – makes it kind of passive. ‘was running’ can become ran…

33. Watch repeated words used close together. That really becomes distracting to the reader.

34. Schedule a time each day to write. Sit your butt in the chair and write. Your brain will get the hang of being productive on cue.

35. Use appropriate language for your characters. If your 20 year old professional and savvy heroine says, “Golly gee” – that’s odd and jarring.

36. Use of ‘locks’ for hair has become cliche – seriously. People have hair, not locks unless it’s a padlock in their hair. Odd bondage scene??

37. Try to avoid giving all your characters in the same book names that are too similar or all start with the same letter. Gets confusing for both you AND the reader.

38. Anything that pulls the reader out of the story and gives them the chance to put the book down – weed it out of your writing!

39. Avoid using euphemisms that will make most people laugh – “his hairy man sack” is just gross! NOT sexy…LOL!

40. If your prologue is just an excuse to do a backstory dump – cut it. Only use those when absolutely needed to set up a scene.

41. Make sure you know your book’s timeline. Keep a chart. If 3 nights have passed, but it’s never been dark, it better be a paranormal.

42. World Building: Make the rules for your world and characters and then don’t break them. You’ll lose the reader’s trust.

43. Tie up all lose ends at the end, even if it’s a series. Each book must have a satisfying ending or you’re going to lose the reader’s trust… You can have a story ARC for the entire series, but you must have an ARC for each book in the series, each with a satisfying ending.

44. Avoid complicated names for characters – pain in the butt to type and hard for the reader to remember, pronounce etc is a dissatisfier.

45. If a scene doesn’t move the story forward – cut it!! Seriously.

46. If the heroine or hero are chafing and handcuffs aren’t involved, get them some freaking lube people!! That’s just not sexy. LOL…

47. Word choice matters. Thigh is sexier than leg. Breast is sexier than boob or tit. Clit is sexier that ‘love button’ – ACK!

48. Afraid of using the “C” word? It can be done… Read my Seduction series – used in non traditional way, but most of my readers loved it. Ceremony of Seduction – the first book in that series is my best selling book out of all that I’ve written under both pen names!

49. Call it what it is. It’s not a “man rod” or a “love shaft” or a “steely length”, it’s a penis or a dick or a cock. Really…

50. If the hero and heroine are running for their lives and they stop to have sex – they kinda deserve to die…Just sayin’…

51. Be realistic. Most guys (sorry guys!) can’t come four times in an hour…some women can… Don’t make your reader’s roll their eyes.

52. If your hero knows every brand name your heroine is wearing – he might be gay and/or a designer… Which is fine if you’re writing M/M romance or Chick Lit, but I don’t know too many straight men who even CARE what brand names a woman is wearing…

53. When writing romance, a hero who is a jerk or treats the heroine badly is NOT a hero. Readers want a romantic hero – give it to them.

54. A hero who looks at, fantasizes about or ‘plays with’ other women than the heroine (unless it’s a menage book) is NOT heroic.

55. Your heroine can’t flirt with or cheat on the hero either. NOT heroic. If they both agree to a threesome etc, fine, but not outside of that. And even then it has to fit with that genre.

56. Don’t forget to SHOW emotions in your scenes. How are the characters feeling? SHOW US! Don’t TELL us.

57. Action/reaction. Let us see the character’s reactions to things – internal thoughts, emotional reactions and physical reactions.

58. Make sure your hero and heroine’s internal thoughts and dialogue sound different. Each character should be unique.

59. If you aren’t getting hot and bothered while WRITING your sex scene, no one will while reading it!

60. Yes your story MUST have a plot – even if it’s erotic. Most readers like an engaging story with their hot sex! I know I do!

Tina