Monday, March 30, 2015

Breathless Monday: All for a Dead Man's Leg

1.How did you start writing erotic romance?
I don't write erotic romance but spicy. I didn't get into novel or romance writing until I was in my forties. At that time, everyone was raving about a current romance novel and how great it was (sort of like the recent Shades of Grey phenomenon). I don't even remember the title or author.
I read the book, was unimpressed, and thought, Even I could write a better romance than this. So I decided to try it. At the time, I was working 60 hours a week and raising three children, but I did write the novel in about eight months. It's still unpublished, stored in box in the garage.
2.Plotter or pantster?
I’m about fifty-fifty. 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. Some of my favorite scenes and best writing had to go. I cried for 6 months, and then it took another year and a half to revise.
After that, I wrote from a very tight outline until my experiment with writing humor in first person (All For A Dead Man’s Leg). That started out with a general idea and not a clue what was going to happen. It worked, but I was so lucky.
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 plot points, but not specifically how I’ll accomplish it. And, of course, things change along the way (no matter whether you’re a plotter or pantser). I update the plot outline if modifications are important enough to impact other scenes, plot points, and overall direction.
3.What are three things you have on your writing desk?
In addition to the ever present computer and the related accouterments, I have: 1) a one-hour timer, 2) a thesaurus and Flip Dictionary, and 3) the one page outline of the story I'm working on.
(Can I mention the empty wine bottles and boxes of chocolates?)
4. Favorite food?
Ice Cream, of course. For me, it's a food group all by itself. Too bad it has the least amount of food value of anything a person can eat. Except that cardboard has the advantage of having no calories or cholesterol. Since my husband is Italian and does all the cooking, I have to say my second favorite food is pasta, but only with his tomato sauce.
5. Tell us a little about your new release. What character in the book really spoke to you?
All For A Dead Man's Leg is the first book in a humorous romantic suspense series featuring a young tour director, Harriet Ruby, and a mysterious spy.
The heroine, Harriet Ruby, has lived a good but predictable life. Her biggest problem is that she has no real problems. When she graduates from MIT she decides she wants some excitement and takes a position as a tour director in Europe. When she meets Will Talbot, mysterious handsome spy whose life has been unpredictable and dangerous, her world turns upside down and will never be the same. Each novel in the series features a spy adventure in a different country, and the romance between Harriet and Will moves up a notch.
To understand what character spoke to me, you have to understand the inspiration for this novel. On a tour of Spain, Morocco, and Portugal in 1994, I asked our tour director what his worst tour guide experience had been. He told me on one of his first tours, one of his tourists died in Morocco. He and his driver had to smuggle the body back to Spain to keep from delaying the tour with Moroccan red-tape.
At the time I found that intriguing. The idea rolled around in my head for nearly ten years before I found the right characters. I tried a German WWII story and other basic plot ideas, but none of them took. It was when I decided to experiment writing humor in the first person that I found the right character for the lead...Harriet Ruby. She went about her business and quickly Will Talbot, the spy, showed up. From there, the characters wrote the story for me.
So, I have to say that Harriet spoke to me. If I could be anyone other than who I am, I would want to be Harriet.
6. I write because ____
Because I can't help it. As are all writers, I'm compelled to write. I haven't always written fiction, but I have always expressed myself in writing.
I write novels which are fun to read and which take the reader to exotic places they may never get a chance to experience in reality.
7. What is your favorite type of character to write about?
The next one. (It's true.)
Villains are fun to write because they are complex and can outwit everyone. Heroes and heroines have to be able to foil the villain. But most of all, I like writing about strong women who want to make a difference in the world.
After spending a 37-year career in what was a man's profession when I started, I've gone up against prejudicial ideas about women in the workplace. I appreciate the kind of woman it takes to break through the glass ceiling, whether it be in a job, in a marriage, community, or whatever. They don't have to be physically kick-ass to be strong.
8. What is the sexiest scene you ever wrote?
It's hard to say what makes one scene more sexy than another, other than it isn't about the physical moves (although they help). Sexy is about emotion, tension, and playing the game. My sexiest scene is in a Mafia novel which takes place in Sicily just after WWII and which is not a romance.
9. What advice would you give new authors in the erotica/romance field?
Gosh, there are so many things, but to me these are the most important and they apply to any genre.
Start today - Never think you’re too old, too old, too busy. The right time never comes.
Finish the book - Don’t get stuck rewriting the first couple of chapters over and over. Keep going and finish the book. Then go back and edit, fine-tune, rewrite―whatever it takes to make the novel work. Finish first.
Be persistent and never get discouraged - Keep at it, no matter what, but along with that, be honest with your expectations. There’s a word for writers with persistence: Published.
Learn the craft of writing - There is no substitute for learning the craft of writing. In addition to English grammar, spelling, and punctuation, you need to learn the components of a novel, how to plot, how to develop characters, structure, pacing, view point, establishing tension, creating an ambiance, and a lot more.
Read, read, read!
Write, write, write!
Network - Take your advice from other writers and people who know the craft and the business, not friends and family (unless they are in the profession).
Don’t expect writing to be easy - It’s hard work, whether you write a good book or a bad one, but it’s worth it if you are truly a writer.
10. What is next on your writerly horizon?
In addition to the release of the next several books in the Tour Director Extraordinaire Series, I'm editing a completed amateur-sleuth murder mystery set in Los Angeles. I've also begun a murder mystery set at the research station at the South Pole. I'm also researching a historical about the incarceration of the Japanese-American during WWII. None of these fall into the romance genre—at least not yet.
Now that you bring it up, it looks like I'm trying my hand at other genres. I'd love to write science fiction, because it's one of my favorite genres to read.
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Book Buy-links
Breathless Press   Breathless Press Buy-Link` Siracusa
B&N                         Barnes and Noble Buy Link
Book Blurb
A dead tourist, a prosthetic leg, and a gorgeous secret agent...just another day in the life of a Tour Director.
Meet Harriet Ruby, a well-balanced MIT graduate with a degree in languages, whose life has been good but ordinary and predictable. Wanting new experiences before she settles down to a career and family, she accepts a position as a tour director in Europe.
Meet Will Talbot, a handsome Europol spy and covert operative for the US government with a dark troubled past, major trust issues, and dissociative amnesia. Driven by guilt over something he believes he did, he has a penchant for rescuing innocent victims caught up in dangerous circumstances.
Harriet’s first solo stint as a tour director in Spain and Morocco is going well until they get lost in the medina in Tangier. There, one of her tourists becomes ill. Harriet needs to find a doctor, can’t speak Arabic, and doesn’t know how to get out of the walled city. A handsome and mysterious stranger, Will Talbot, examines the tourist, pronounces him dead, and offers to help her smuggle the body out of Morocco. At this moment, Harriet’s once-predictable life turns upside down. Little does she know that getting out of Morocco is only the beginning of an incredible adventure in pursuit of murders, smugglers, terrorists, and a meaningful relationship.
 Buy link:
Book Excerpt – Chapter 1
Looking back on it, I could see everything would have worked out fine if Archie Philpot hadn't chosen that particular time and place to die.
Not that he did it maliciously, mind you, nor did he exactly choose. But I'm sure if he'd thought about the welfare of the many—our tour group, to be specific—as opposed to the convenience of the one, he might have staved off the event for another ten or twelve hours. Then there would have been no problem.
Well, not exactly no problem.
But perhaps I should start when everything began to fall apart.
My name is Harriet Ruby, Tour Director Extraordinaire. Or so I'd thought. I had just begun to believe my first solo stint in Europe was a roaring success when we got lost in the medina—the ancient walled city—in Tangier.
"Let's stop here for a moment," I called to my tour group.
While they assembled, I glanced around at the souk, the market place within the city walls. It was a maze of tiny shops, tents, and winding passageways crowded with Moroccans.
"I'm never going to find my way out of here." I pulled out my cell phone and punched in my driver's number. Mario knew the route and spoke Arabic, but he had gone to fix a flat tire on our bus while I herded our fourteen tourists around the medina. That was two hours ago.
No answer.
Harriet, this does not bode well for your goal of a long and successful career in the tour business.
With the back of my hand, I swiped at the perspiration popping out on my brow. "Please stay right here and don't go anywhere. I'll be right back."
All of them smiled and nodded. Grimacing, I hurried to one of the tea shops we had passed to look for someone who spoke English. No luck. I was only gone for two or three minutes, I swear—well, maybe it was five or six—but when I returned to the place where I had left my tourists, they were gone.
This was not starting out to be a good day.
"Mez Harri Boobies!" The shrill cry sliced through the confusion of sweating bodies crowding the market. An arm shot out of nowhere, and a brown hand clamped my wrist. I swallowed my shriek of surprise. Tangier was rife with hands that grabbed at foreigners.
"Mez Harri Boobies, you come queek," the man whispered in my ear. "Mezter Pillpot no good, yes? You come."
"It's R-u-b-y, not Boobie." I repeated my name for Mr. Takamura, one of the three almost-English-speaking Japanese tourists in the small group I was directing through Spain and Morocco. While my name was not destined to be in lights on Hollywood marquees, for the past twenty-four years, it had served me well enough. I had a sentimental attachment to it.
Without a reply, he released my arm. Insinuating his slight body into the crush of street peddlers, dirty children, and veiled ladies, he moved quickly out of sight. With a deep sigh, I tucked my Adventure Seekers sign under my arm and followed him, devastated by the foreboding that I would be nicknamed "Hairy Boobies" for the rest of my career as a tour director, which might not be very long after this little incident.
He penetrated farther into the ancient market through twisted, narrow passageways filled with malodorous bodies and a myriad of colors rippling in the heat—red, blue, amber, purple of clothing, goods for sale, food, tents. In pursuit, I skirted white-robed Moroccans bartering for goods, men sipping mint tea, and women painting the hands of girls with rich sienna-colored henna. The humid air, replete with an exotic mixture of scents—ginger, curry, rare perfumes, cigarette smoke, donkey dung—stirred my senses. The crowd babbled in many languages, counterpoint to the lilting melody of the seruani pipes.
"Wait!" How in the world had they gone this far in such a short time?
He hesitated for an instant, turned, and waved. Then he disappeared again. Finally, Mr. Takamura stopped in a small plaza with a colorful tiled fountain in the center, a calm refuge in the midst of chaos. In stray beams of sunlight, tiny motes of dust danced in the thick atmosphere. The Japanese gentleman waited for me to catch up, then smiled and bowed.
My gaze followed his nod. "Ohmigod!"
Archibald Philpot of London, the eldest and most distinguished of my tourists, knelt doubled over the lip of the fountain, hurling his guts. Oh, boy.
My tourists—three American and two Swedish couples and the other two Japanese—watched with helpless concern on their faces while a growing knot of Moroccans glared at us,  mayhem glinting in their dark eyes.
The disbelief and thin-lipped anger on their faces indicated they were not pleased about the desecration of what was probably their water supply. I couldn't blame them. This could get dicey. A drop of sweat dribbled into my eye.
Edith Johnson, a ditzy fiftyish blonde trying to look thirty, was the first to see me. She clapped her hand to her bosom and cried, "Thank goodness you're here, Harriet. Do something."
Who, me?
I dropped down beside Archie. His complexion was grayish-green, his rheumy eyes were glazed over, and by the stench, I guessed the poor man might have a case of diarrhea. My stomach heaved. Swallowing hard, I managed to maintain my tour director decorum. This was definitely not in my job description.

Author bio
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.
Now retired, she combines her passions—world travel and writinginto novels which transport readers to exotic settings, immerse them in romance, intrigue, and foreign cultures, and make them laugh.
Her first novel, a post WWII mafia thriller, was published in 2008.  She now writes for Breathless Press which has published five books in the romantic suspense series, Tour Director Extraordinaire, one sci-fi romance, a time-travel romance, and three short stories.

She loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted through her website, Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus.

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