Attack of the Plot Bunnies with Guest Author Taylor Lunsford

Today I have a special treat for y'all. I can't remember how long ago I met Taylor Lunsford, but I can tell you that it's been a long time and she has often helped me by listening to me vent about a book I'm having trouble writing. I've also watched her work her butt off to write her own books and to get published, so I'm beyond thrilled to introduce her and her brand new book, Fair Game! It has a nerdy hero, y'all. I loves me a nerdy hero. <3

Today she's telling us where she got the idea and how long it took to bake in the mental oven before it became a story. Welcome, Taylor!

Attack of the Plot Bunnies with Taylor Lunsford

All writers get attacked by plot bunnies. They come from the strangest places. Some come from a line of dialog in a movie or a TV show. Others come from a song. And then there are some that are small and insidious, that take root when you least expect it. They slowly grow and multiply until all you can do is write that book, no matter what.

Fair Game was one of those. The seed was planted back in 2012, when Roni was first starting to work on her fifth Loving on the Edge book, Kelsey and Wyatt’s book, Caught Up In You. She and I had been friends for a year or two at that point, and she was telling me about some plotting issues she was having with the book.

I remember it really vividly. I was at the Dallas Arboretum with my dad and little brother at the Chagall exhibit (which I’d already seen) so my brother could take pictures. I, of course, was on my phone. As Roni and I talked about some of the changes she was making to her original idea for the book, a little voice in the back of my head started whispering to me. What if you had a kickass alpha female heroine who fell head-over-heels for the geeky beta hero?

For those of you who don’t know, beta heroes, as defined by the always brilliant Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan are: “He’s a dude. A nice dude….” They go on to say: “what makes the beta hero so great: an unshakable core of pure and stalwart good, so constant and abiding it’s damn near alpha in its strength.” That is what I latched onto with Liam. He was clear in my mind almost from the start. He was Clark Kent without the whole alien-from-another-planet thing. And he had to look like Henry Cavill (because I’ve been in love with him since I was 15).

I didn’t immediately work on this plot bunny I was busy with other things at the time. But it kept whispering seductively until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I had to sit down and write this story. Vivien (named for the erstwhile Vivien Leigh), took a bit more time to come to me, but once she did, she stormed down the doors and made her presence known.

Now, five years after they first started whispering to me, Vivien and Liam are out in the world for everyone to love. Keep listening to the plot bunnies, friends. You never know when that rabbit trail is going to lead to something great!


About the book:

In her designer shoes and power suits, Vivien Monroe couldn’t be more out of place in the video game company she inherited from her eccentric father. Not only does she have to sort out her father’s last request and deal with a younger sister she barely knows, she has to go toe-to-toe with her father’s protégé—a man who makes her think about the last thing she should be thinking about right now.

With his thick-framed glasses and graphic tees, Liam Hale is the exact opposite of what she needs right now. His relaxed, out-of-the-box attitude reminds her too much of her father’s more exasperating quirks, but his dedication and quiet stubbornness begin to drive her crazy in a completely different way.

All Vivien wants is to get back to her life in New York, but someone is stealing the company’s best game ideas, and an FBI agent is sniffing around. She’ll save her father’s legacy for her sister and then she’s out of there—if she can leave Liam behind.

Buy the book:  Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple iBooks | Kobo


EXCERPT:

“You look beautiful tonight, by the way.” He pitched his voice low enough that they wouldn’t be overheard, but just loud enough to be heard over the music, enjoying the tickle of her hair. “I meant to say that earlier, but I, uh, got a little tongue tied.”

“You don’t clean up so bad yourself,” she said, leaning back to look up into his face. There was subtle shift in her expression. She almost looked…not happy, that wasn’t the word. Maybe content fit best. “I must say, I half-expected you to show up wearing sneakers with your suit.”

He laughed at that. “Even I know how to dress up when I have to. Couldn’t be seen with such a pretty woman looking like a slob. I knew you would pull out all the stops for this, but you… You look like you stepped out of one of those old Hollywood film reels of premieres or something.”

“Well, you’re not exactly Clark Gable. Jimmy Stewart, maybe.” The teasing note in her voice sent a little glow of warmth straight to the center of his chest and hardened his cock even further. “But you’ll do. I’m surprised Agent Calhoun isn’t here with you.”

“Sophia?” Liam frowned, trying to understand where that had come from. Then he got. “We’re not together.”

Vivien raised an eyebrow. “Really? You seemed awfully cozy the other day.”

“We’re friends.” Liam looked her straight in the eyes so there would be no confusion. “We were together in college, but she unceremoniously dumped me to run off to join the FBI. But we’re evolved adults who are still cordial to each other when we have to be.”

In a practiced move, he sent her spinning out of his arms, only to bring her back, dipping her a little before bringing her upright. “Any other questions?”

“Are you trying to sweep me off my feet, Mr. Hale?”

“I don’t know, Ms. Monroe.” He settled her closer to him, the heat of her body radiating against his. “Would you let me if I was?”

Vivien didn’t say anything, the music drifting over them like a warm spring rain. She looked away the ghost of the earlier darkness in her eyes, but she let her head rest lightly against his shoulder. The gesture might seem small, but it spoke volumes to him. On some level, she trusted him. She wouldn’t let her guard down like this if she didn’t. He didn’t need an answer, not now, and she didn’t seem prepared to give him one. Liam knew what he wanted—time. Time with her, time to figure out what was going on between them. Time to hold her for longer than a song.


About Taylor:

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From the time she figured out how to turn the Disney Read-Along cassette tape over in the dark, Taylor’s been addicted to reading—both authorized and unauthorized. By the time she was thirteen, she’d started writing Newsies fan fiction and reading romance novels late into the night. A champion multi-tasker, she’s been known to read, write, and watch TV all at the same time, especially if there’s a HEA ending involved. In addition to being a frequent stress baker, she’s spent the majority of her free time becoming fluent in most dialects of nerdiness, starting with musicals, and is mildly obsessed with all things British (especially the Royal Family and tennis champ Andy Murray). Growing up with a village of strong women as an example, she doesn’t miss an opportunity to weave in community engagement and feminism into each of her books in one way or another—her heroines are always sassy and smart and her heroes wouldn’t have them any other way.

Visit Taylor’s website | Sign Up for Taylor’s Newsletter |Follow Taylor on Twitter | Like Taylor’s Facebook Page | Follow Taylor on Instagram |Amazon Author Page 

 

Thanks for stopping by, Taylor!

    

 

Guest Author Maggie Wells on Writing Kickass Heroines

Happy April! Hope everyone had a nice weekend. I'm in the final stages of finishing up book 3 in The Ones Who Got Away series (The One You Fight For), which is already up for pre-order! So I'll be in the writer cave all week, but today I have a special treat for you. Maggie Wells is stopping by to tell us about her new release in her Playing for Keeps series and about writing strong, kickass heroines. I really love this topic because I agree with her that we're harder on the heroines than we are the heroes. When I wrote By the Hour, I knew I was going to get push back because the heroine was a villainess in the first book, but she had good reason to be a bitch for a while (in my opinion) and had a journey to make, so I'm all for the tough woman getting her romance. : )

Take it away, Maggie!

Guest Author Maggie Wells on Writing Kickass Heroines

Take it away, Maggie!

I write women I know. Or want to know. Some readers fall in love with my characters on first sight. Other heroines, they can never quite warm to. I get that. Believe it or not, I’m okay with that.

We all know women come in all shapes, shades, and sizes. I am a vertically challenged (but still the first woman in my family to break out of petite inseams, thankyouverymuch), pinkish-white, middle-aged woman. You probably know someone who fits that description, but I will bet all the money in my wallet (heh) they can’t fit my backstory.

I am the seventh child and one of two girls born to parents of Irish and German-American descent. I was raised in a middle-class, middle-America household. Dad worked hard to provide for us, and mom worked harder as a homemaker. I was given an excellent, if not always appreciated, Catholic school education. I attended university close to home, joined a sorority, and wound up with a degree in Political Science that has proved to be woefully underutilized in any of the six career paths I’ve followed since graduation. Pretty typical, right?

Oh, did I mention that my parents were alcoholics? Yeah, that shapes a person a bit. But I'm not damaged because of it, just cautious around alcohol. And, in spite of the booze, my family is freakishly functional. I had three serious romantic entanglements before the age of twenty-one, then dated sporadically through my twenties. I was a bridesmaid nine times. I considered myself comfortably settled into my singledom by the age of thirty. Then, I met my husband. A twice-divorced custodial parent of two kids under ten.

What could be more perfect for a nice Catholic girl?

I believe a person’s backstory shapes their humanity. There are a multitude of factors that play into our chances for success. Genetic traits passed on at birth, family ties, friendships and support networks. Then we add in education, environment, romantic and sexual identity, career choices…It goes on and on.

But every one of these factors force us to confront and adjust who we are and what is important to us. I went through all of this to say, you can’t duplicate me.

Yet, we like to try to fit our fictional heroines into tiny little molds. We call them archetypes, because that sounds cooler and more writery, but basically, they are character sketches. We want them to be relatable. Perhaps we want them to be just like us, or come with qualities we aspire to have. But sometimes those sketches bleed into one another or blur around the edges.

We all have stories and characters we gravitate toward. I like to read about women who have confidence in some things, but maybe not everything. I write some who make life choices that boggle my mind even as I’m putting the words on the page. There are some I’d love to be more like one type, but they stubbornly refuse to conform. Others, who are pretty much my doppelganger.

As a writer, I want the words I write to mean something to someone. Even the silly jokes. Because I never know who is reading. That person may really need a laugh that day. Or, perhaps, a reader sees something of herself in a character someone else might see as tragically flawed. This is why it’s important to me to write women who don’t always fit the mold. Maybe they didn’t spend their childhood playing with baby dolls and dreaming of their wedding day. Maybe, like me, they did, but that family life didn’t unfold the way they originally envisioned.

Doesn’t make it better or worse, just makes it different.

Our life stories can be plotted using two simple markers—decision or indecision. Of course, as a writer, I tend to write action more than inaction. No one wants to read a story where life simply happens to a person, right? But we all know inaction can have as potent a result as action.

Me, I’d rather see my heroine make the wrong choice than no choice at all.

As readers, we can be pretty darn judgmental about some of the things heroines do. But we forgive an awful lot in our heroes. I know I do. When will we as romance readers and writers start extending the same level of forgiveness and understanding to our heroines?

I am a work in progress—as a person, as a writer, and as a reader. I love characters who refuse to stop evolving. When I started writing the Love Games series, I wanted to write romance with a seriously feminist bent. Stories that would showcase kickass women who happened to be hitting some of those critical moments of decision/indecision smack dab in the middle of life.

You know, that time in life when younger people think we're supposed to have life all figured out?

When I started writing Millie Jensen, I knew I'd found a kindred spirit. I also know that Millie's manner and some of her choices may not sit well with readers. But that's okay. Millie is her own person. Just like me. And you.

I'll tell you a secret, most of us don’t have it all figured out. Even at my advanced age. So, when do we start accepting ourselves as flawed, but still pretty damn awesome? At what point do we start cutting women—real and fictional—a break?

Meet Millie and her fantastically flawed friends in my latest release, PLAY FOR KEEPS!

Mixing business and pleasure is a dangerous game…
Tyrell Ransom, the new men’s basketball coach, is ready to whip his team into shape and start winning some games. But when compromising photos of his soon-to-be-ex-wife with one of his players go viral, everything comes crashing down. With reporters thick on the ground, Ty and his team need some serious damage control―now
 

When public relations guru Millie Jenkins arrives in her leopard-print cape to save the day, things really heat up… Soon they’re going to have to work double time to keep their white-hot chemistry out of the headlines.

Grab your copy at:

Amazon ~ Apple ~ B&N ~ Google Play ~ Kobo  ~ Powell’s ~ Books-A-Million ~ The Ripped Bodice

 
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About Maggie: 

By day, Maggie Wells is buried in spreadsheets. At night, she pens tales of people tangling up the sheets. The product of a charming rogue and a shameless flirt, you only have to scratch the surface of this mild-mannered married lady to find a naughty streak a mile wide. Maggie has a passion for college football, processed cheese foods, and happy endings. Not necessarily in that order.  

More Maggie: 

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook 

 

COVER REVEAL & CONTEST: The One You Can't Forget

Hey y'all, I know it's been a while, but I'm buried in a book deadline and am having to dedicate all my time to that. However, I have a special treat to share today--a new cover and a contest!

This is the cover for The One You Can't Forget, Book 2 of The Ones Who Got Away series, and will come out next summer. Be sure to get Book 1, The Ones Who Got Away, on January 2nd or pre-order now!

Also, there's a contest to win book one! CONTEST ENTRY: You must click over and enter on Sourcebooks Facebook page. I'm not running this contest so a comment here won't get you entered.

All right, now *drumroll*....

TA-DA!

I'm super in love with this cover and it so fits the story, so I'm really excited. Let me know what you think!

Most days Rebecca Lindt feels like an imposter...

The world admires her as a survivor. But that impression would crumble if people knew her secret. She didn't deserve to be the one who got away. But nothing can change the past, so she's thrown herself into her work. She can't dwell if she never slows down. 

Wes Garrett is trying to get back on his feet after losing his dream restaurant, his money, and half his damn mind in a vicious divorce. But when he intervenes in a mugging and saves Rebecca—the attorney who helped his ex ruin him—his simple life gets complicated. 

Their attraction is inconvenient and neither wants more than a fling. But when Rebecca's secret is put at risk, both discover they could lose everything, including what they never realized they needed: each other

She laughed and kissed him. This morning she'd melted down. But somehow this man had her laughing and turned on only a few hours later. Everything inside her felt buoyed. 

She felt...light.

She'd forgotten what that felt like.

PREORDER