Monday, November 4, 2013

All For A Blast of Hot Air

By R. Ann Siracusa
A secret pre-nuptial honeymoon, a hot air balloon safari, and a plot to kill the US president all come together at a Vatican wedding.

I'm Harriet Ruby, tour director extraordinaire. Finally, I'm tying the knot with Will Talbot, my favorite spy and the love of my life, despite my nagging concerns about his dangerous profession.
He could get killed!
I don't want my children to grow up with an absentee father...or a dead one, but Will's work is his calling. I can't ask him to give it up. When he holds me in his arms, I have no doubt he'll find a way to make everything right.
To avoid the huge Italian wedding my mother is planning in California, I jump at an offer to get married in the Vatican, only to learn my whole tribe is making the trip to Rome for the ceremony. Darn. Now, I'm stuck planning a big wedding in two months without help. I freak out totally when my boss cancels my vacation time scheduled for the honeymoon.
At Will's suggestion, we get married at city hall, hire a wedding planner, and then take off on our honeymoon before the church ceremony. The first leg of our trip is a hot air balloon safari in Africa—well, it sounded like fun at the time—but afterward, we'll have two quiet, relaxing weeks totally alone.
When a member of our tour is kidnapped, I learn Will accepted an assignment from the US government to keep the kidnap victim under surveillance—after he'd promised me his full attention. All my doubts about the marriage raise their ugly heads.
Have I jumped the gun? Sure, we love each other, but is that enough to make this marriage work?
It won't matter if we don't get out alive.

1.How did you start writing romance?
I’ve always liked to read and write stories, but I never considered writing as a profession. I already knew at 13 that I wanted to be an architect. As an architect and urban planner, I did a lot of non-fiction and professional writing, but I didn’t follow up on my interest in fiction writing until I was in my forties.
At the time, everyone was raving about a romance novel (sort of a 1980s "Fifty Shades of Grey" – I don't even remember the name). I didn't read romance, but I read this one. My reaction was, “Oh, man. Even I can write better than this.” So I read eight or ten romance novels and then wrote one in about 8 months.
It was good story, but not better—learning the craft took a while—but I was on my way. After that, I began to write despite a demanding family with three kids and an Italian husband, a 60 hr+/week career, and a four-hour-per-day commute. I'd realized that fiction writing was my “calling.”
2. Plotter or pantster?
At this point, I’m straddling the fence with one leg on the plotter side, the other on the pantster side.
My story: I wrote my mafia thriller with only a loose outline and ended up with 300,000 words. Cutting over 600 pages was like killing my children. I cried for 6 months, and then it took another year and a half to revise. After that, I wrote from a very detailed outline.
My first pantster experience was an experiment to see if I could write humor in first person. It started out with a general idea and not a clue what was going to happen. It worked, but I was so lucky. That turned out to be the first book in the Tour Director Extraordinaire series. I never intended it to be a series, but I fell in love with the characters and the voice. More had to follow.
Since then, I've settled into using a one-page plotting outline (one sentence per scene about what has to happen) so I know where I’m going, what scenes I need to get there, and the general plot points, but not specifically how I’ll accomplish it. I update the plot outline if ongoing modifications are important enough to impact other scenes, plot points, and overall direction.
3. What are three things you have on your writing desk?
Would that there were only three things. My desk looks like the aftermath of a tornado. Among the mess is a dictionary (I just don't trust spell checkers), a kitchen timer, and a calendar.
4. Favorite food?
Hey, I'm a writer. What do you expect? Chocolate, of course...with ice cream running a close second. And there's wine and coffee and...
5. Tell us a little about your new release. What character in the book really spoke to you?
My new release, All For A Blast Of Hot Air, is the fifth book in the romantic suspense series, Tour Director Extraordinaire, which started with the experiment in first person.
The series is about a smart young woman whose biggest problem is that she doesn’t have any real problems—for twenty-four years, her life has been good but predictable—who takes a position as a tour director in Europe. All goes well until she and her tour group get lost in the medina in Tangier, and one of her tourists dies.
Will Talbot, a handsome stranger and Europol spy in disguise, offers to help her smuggle the body out of Morocco. At that moment, Harriet’s once-ordinary life turns upside down and will never be the same again.
Like fire and water, Harriet and Will’s intense magnetic attraction to each other creates a volatile combination. Together, they experience hilarious misadventures, great sex, and life-threatening journeys in pursuit of murderers, smugglers, terrorists, and a once-in-a-lifetime love.
By book five, All For A Blast Of Hot Air, Will and Harriet have known each other for nearly four years and are ready to tie the knot. This novel is set in Southern Africa where they couple takes a hot air balloon safari, their prenuptial honeymoon, with some unexpected results.
I dearly love both the hero and heroine. Will has a troubled past and lots of issues—perfect on outside and flawed inside—and is the kind of man every woman wants to save. Harriet is the view point character, and she's the one who really motivates me. If I could be anybody, I would be her.
6. I write because ____
I write because I'm compelled to write by my inner soul. I believe this may be a genetic defect writers share. We have to tells our stories and share our thoughts and ideas, and fantasies.
I write novels because I want to share the wonder and enlightenment of visiting other cultures of the world. There is so much out there, and some people don't get to experience it firsthand. I'm lucky that I can travel, and I want my readers to feel as though, for a few hours, they've stepped outside their own venue and trouble and have lost themselves in an exciting adventure as another person in another place.
7. What is your favorite type of character to write about?
I find all characters interesting and challenging, but I like intelligent kickass heroines the best. I admire and enjoy writing about strong women who their use brains and wits as much as I admire those with physical skills and toughness.
I tend to start with the basic story and then look for characters who would be engaged by the situation and who bring the personality and skills necessary to deal with it. I rarely start with a character.
8. What is the sexiest scene you ever wrote?
I doubt that I remember. The most important one, in terms of storyline, is in my Mafia novel, Family Secrets: A Vengeance of Tears. Sex scenes have to fit the characters and the context of the novel.
9. What advice would you give new authors in the erotica/romance field?
First, let me share an introspection of the heroine in All For A Blast Of Hot Air.
Free advice from your friends is worth only what you pay for. And once they give you advice, it’s clear they really aren’t your friends. Even when you ask, people who have your best interests at heart keep their mouths shut and let you make your own mistakes.

I have a long list of pointers for new writers. It resembles advice given by many other authors, so I'd like to make a point that isn't among their do's and don'ts.
You can't get there it you don't know where you're going.
No matter where you are with your writing, prepare a career plan and use it to make informed decisions. Too often writers make emotional or uninformed choices which can prove, at best, setbacks to a career; at worst, they can be disastrous. Let's face it. In the publishing business, we all shoot from the hip. The difference between success and failure is shooting at a target.
Anyone interested in knowing more about career planning for writers, please contact me through my website, twitter, or facebook.
10. What is next on your writerly horizon?
Getting bored writing in the same genre is a big challenge for me. I switch around, which doesn't help with building an audience.
I'm embarking on a WWII historical, mainstream novel (not romance but with a romantic element) about the incarceration of the Japanese and American-Japanese during World War II. It's a topic I'm very passionate about. In my opinion it's a shameful chapter in American history, and one that, for many years, was not even mentioned in the study of American history.

Later, sated and limp with contentment, we dozed. I awoke to him nibbling at my ear.
"Hmm. Is it morning yet?" I eased away, stretched long and hard, then curled against him again. "Will..."
I hesitated so long he pulled back and turned me so he could peer into my eyes, holding me in place so I couldn't escape.
His voice conveyed concern. "What's the matter?"
"Mmm, nothing. I was wondering if... Is this going to change when we get married?"
Will stiffened and gazed into my eyes with an unreadable nuance of expression. "If you're asking if I'm going to whip out a roll of duct tape, run a line down the center of the bed, and put my Kevlar vest and a can of Mace between us, the answer is definitely not."
I grimaced. "Mace would be risky."
He laughed with amusement and some other undefined emotion that made me fidget in place. He wasn't done with me. "With your track record, we'd better forget the Mace. But if you mean this..."
Cupping my breast, he took the swollen nipple into his mouth, pinching lightly and pulling, sending bolts of sexual desire to my core, flushing my body with heat, then trailed hot kissed down my quivering abdomen and between my legs. My body arched, and, in a heartbeat, I flew from unprepared to orgasm to spinning in space among the stars.
He gave me time to come back to earth and relax, utterly contented, and then said, "If you mean that—yes, it's going to change."
My heart seized, then slammed against my rib cage. I pushed him away and sat up. "What do you mean, it's going to change?" Confused and alarmed, I grasped his shoulders and shook him.
Gently clamping his strong hands around my wrists, he pulled me back down onto his chest, our faces inches apart. Our gazes locked in the dim early morning dawn seeping through the slats of the veneziani shutters. "As I understood it, you were asking me if our sexual relationship would change when we get married. I answered you."
"But I don't want it to change!"
"Get a grip, Tiger. You know everything changes."
I sniffed and held back the tears burning behind my eyes. "M-maybe we... shouldn't g-get married."
Sucking in a deep breath of frustration, he rolled me under him, nudging my legs apart and settling his weight in the V of my thighs, his gaze boring into me.
"Jesus, Harriet. I didn't mean that. Think! Do you remember how our relationship was when we first met in Morocco, three years ago? Do you want us to go back to how we were then?"
"Yes, I remember. It was good—really good—but I...I like things the way they are now." His erection pressed against me. Oh, yeah. I definitely like things the way things are now.
"We've both changed, Tiger. Our relationship has changed...for the better, but it's not the same. We're at a different time and place in our lives. We'll never be back there, and we'll never be back here again, either."
My lower lip trembled with trepidation and disappointment. "You're scaring me, Will. Promise me everything will stay the way it is now." Even as I pouted and sniffed like a child, I regretted my foolish statement. Of course, there was no way to stop life from evolving, no going back. I clamped my teeth on my lower lip to stop the quivering.
His face softened into a tender expression, a faint smile tweaking the corners of his luscious lips. He shook his head. "Can't. But I can promise you this. As long as I live, I will never love you less than I love you now."
Music to my ears, a silken caress to my fluttering heart. "You are so..." The word sweet came to mind, but he didn't like being called that. "Loveable." I arched my body and brushed my lips across his with feather lightness, then relaxed beneath him.
With his weight on one elbow, he pushed strands of my undisciplined hair off my face and hooked one behind my ear.

"I mean it." His pause made my heart constrict, as though his next words would be momentous. "But there are a few things I'd like to see change in the near future."

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R. Ann Siracusa is a California girl who earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from UC Berkeley, then went immediately to Rome, Italy. On her first day there, she met an Italian policeman at the Fountain of Love, and the rest is history. Instead of a degree from the University of Rome, she got a husband, and they've been married going on fifty years. In Rome, she worked for as an architect and planner for a land development company for several years until she and her husband moved to the US.

Thank you Ann for being on the blog today! I can't wait to read your book! It sounds wonderful.

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