Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday Coffee Talk Sept. 17, 2009 Guest: Renee Bernard

The lazy sun is just peeking out over the treetops on this brisk small town morn! The coffee's on and the scent of baking cinnamon scones fills the kitchen with an inviting warmth!

Now, I could get all fan girl and gush about this woman that I am blessed to call a friend. It's given that she is a brilliant storyteller (pick up any of her books--preferably all) and you will be smitten. Fantastic heroines, to die-for heroes--the works!  I am so pleased she agreed to stop by and chat this morning, so you can get to know her humor, wisdom and warmth.  In addition, Renee has some of the best covers going and you all know I'm a visual freak when it comes to bookcovers and research! Check out her upcoming release! This one hits the shelves MARCH 2010! Sweet!

Come on in, Renee and find a seat! The coffee's just about done-smell that heavenly aroma!  Heavenly! A warm white chocolate raspberry scone added to the plate and we're good to go...

Wow, I can’t believe I’m here… (I’m that woman who swore she’d avoid blogging since the idea of any silly thought in my head being permanently etched into cyberspace keeps her up at night in a cold sweat.) I am the queen of the faux pas (or fox pass as we affectionately call it in my household), so please be kind. Comedy is my life, but there are days when I wonder how that’s possible and why no one has contacted the authorities.

But for Amanda, I’d walk on burning coals. So having a cup of coffee and “hanging out” seems an innocent enough proposition, yes?

I think every author has strange conversations in their heads with their characters. We fall in love with them, we argue with them, we even have those painful moments where we just have to let them go. We have a unique relationship with every character on the page, even those odd little secondary characters that no one but us thinks about. Or maybe it’s just me. (Maybe I just want to believe that everyone else does this…anything to stay off medication, right?)

And lately, one thing that seems to be coming up in these ‘discussions’ is family. So many heroes are lone wolves, and romance often requires the painful isolation of an alpha male to make him more tragic or more compelling… But I find myself giving my heroes and heroines family more often than not. Though not always family in the traditional sense…I give them friends or a quirky butler that hovers, or nosy but well-meaning neighbors. I’m working on a new series for Berkley and it’s about a group of gentleman who have forged their own bonds through adversity and created an odd sort of family called The Jaded. I wanted to give them someone to talk to, someone to rescue or even to fight so that they could reveal a different part of themselves—outside of a boy-chases-girl scenario.

I want to give them dimension, so I suppose surrounding them with family (for better or worse) is a short-cut. How does the heroine deal with an alcoholic father or a dear and dotty aunt? I hope it would say more about her than any description I can provide.

And as my own situation in life unfolds (with a little touch of drama and comedy in good measure), I look at my family and hope that how I face each day says more about me than any bio I can write or someone’s memory of one of an endless list of embarrassing moments (ah, the fox passes!) In caring for the previous generation and nurturing the next one, I can’t help but hope that I’m giving my family as much as they inherently give me. I keep wondering if all the small moments of the day are defining me in “heroic” terms—and so I just try to keep my head up and do better. And pray that they enjoy humor in their lives…

As for those characters—they are my family, too. In a weird landscape, they’re as real to me as mountains. And despite all the torture I put them through before they can earn their happy endings, I do my best to protect them (usually from themselves). Good news, I’m never alone. Bad news, I’m never alone.

And while the characters are usually complete fiction, I’m guilty of stealing from my walking world now and then, if only out of affection. My first novel’s heroine was blind, inspired by my own grandmother. We’re losing her now as her health fails, and I can’t look at that book just now. I simply love her too much to think of what an imperfect homage that was…

And sometimes I get simple notes from readers…so heartfelt and complimentary, and they always seem to come on my worst days when I need them most. And those ladies’ names inadvertently find themselves on the page, because how do you say thank you when someone reaches out of the blue and reminds you about family?

Writing is a solitary act. I understand that. But for me, I’m inspired by the fabric of friends and family that surround the act and enrich it. Fiction and ‘walking’, my family is unique. And I can’t imagine a life without them.

*Get to know more about Renee at

* It is so true that writing is a solitary act in many ways. Which is why we appreciate so much all those emails of encouragement  and thanks, sharing what one of our stories meant, if it gave you a moment of reading pleasure. How have your friends and family encouraged you in a particular endeavor?  How did it make you feel when you accomplished your goal? Feel free to share your thoughts, or ask Renee more about herself or her writing.


Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

Good Morning ladies! Amanda, the coffee smells and taste delicious this morning!
Wonderful post, thank you for sharing Ms. Renee.
It is amazing to see the fruits of your labor. I can only imagine how you guys must feel when you see your book on the shelf, or even better... someone sitting somewhere reading your book.

A couple questions for you... odd, but a questions... Did you read your book(s) once they became published? How did you feel once your saw your first book on the shelves at a book store?

Leontine said...

Curls up in comfy chair and a mug of good aromatic coffee to awaken the senses. it may be already four in the afternoon here, but I am having a lazy day. The first things that makes me grin from ear to ear is:

quote Amanda:you all know I'm a visual freak when it comes to bookcovers.

Raises hand; here another cover lovin' gal that eyes all things abs, pecs and artsy stuff.

It really amazes me how authors can create whole families, worlds and individual characters in their minds. I don't think there's much room left besides my own chaotic thoughts :)

I don't have any stories at the tip of my tongue to answer today's question other then that I am fortunate to have parents and sibbling who have always believed in me, encouraged me to follow my dreams. And that is what I did.

I do have a question for Renee: Did you ever experience a writing slump and of so, what did you do to get out of it?

Amanda McIntyre said...

Hey Cecile and Leontine, so glad you could stop by for a cuppa! And great questions!

Leontine,have you checked your email? LOL


Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

Hey Amanda! Good afternoon Leontine!
Wouldn't miss this!

Amanda McIntyre said...

Good Morning, Ms Cecile!!
How goes it with your fine self this morning?


Leontine said...

e-mail?? e-mail...I count the days until brother can fix my outlook e-mail and all notifications of e-mails awaiting me everywhere comes in to one e-mail box again. Will make my rounds Amanda :)

Amanda McIntyre said...

While we're waiting for sleepyhead Renee to get enough coffee down her to respond...I want to share and get your thoughts on an article I read this morning, which shed new light on an interesting topic--menage.

I'm curious as to your take on the concept in your reading. Do you find a well-written menage scene exciting or even the thought of one an interesting prospect? Or are you turned off completely by it?

What circumstances, if any, would make it more palatable or acceptable to you?


Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

Hey Ms. Amanda =)
So far the weather is nice. Or so that I can see out the sliver of a window that I can see out of my office. My coffee was delicious. And the company here is fantastic! Who can ask for better! The weekend is a-l-m-o-s-t here. And this comfy chair that Leontine has... is very comfy! Better than my chair at work, lol! Oh, to have an imagination, lmao!

Wow, I need more coffee if we are talking menage's!!! LAMO!!!

Amanda McIntyre said...

Just a brief fill in until Renee has enough java in her system LOL Yeah I started my moring with that!
Its a subject that I haven't delved too much into with my writing before..or in real life for that matter..LMAO! However, it is an intriguing topic from a psychological POV!


Amanda McIntyre said...

okay...I feel the need to explain that when I said I started my morning like that...that I didnt mean that I, in reality, started my morning like THAT!!!

just sayin'


Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

**cough cough*** What a way to start off a morning!! LMAO!! No need to 'plain that honey... if that is how you started your morning... mine seemed dull then, lmao!! Oh, my side is killing me from all this laughter!
You are something else!!! Putting a lil Irish in my coffee now... needing something stronger! LMAO!!

Menage... what... I have read only a few books with them in them. The ones I have read, worked. I am a very greedy person when it comes to my relationships... in life and in books... and sharing is not something I am good at. So, the menage has to be done right for me to like it in a book... and in life... I don't think they ever work... was never in one, remember greedy and dont share dont go well! LMAO!!!

Amanda McIntyre said...

Yeah, well pass the Baileys, please Ms. C--;)
This could be a bumpy ride~~~

It was an interesting article in that in one example: two men and one woman, that the attraction generally involves a man of dependability and security , while the other embodies freedom and adventure.

It goes on to say, as women we are taught that our adventure, excitement is found in our relationships-for men, they say they are taught its in the realm of their job, athletics, etc...

So we tend to look for excitement, freedom and adventure in our relationships--perhaps even our reading. Thoses imaginary heroes that we love, those lone wolf rogues that we'd love to take a stab at taming, or we cheer on the heroine who attempts it with unflenching tenacity.

For me, it was eye-opening and where I would not likely find myself in a similar situation in real life--I have a different perspective of the possibilities of writing such a scene.

Which, btw, is something that I am endeavoring, so any and all totems, chants, incense suggestions--most welcome.

Back to writing..."Nae should be here soon!


Anonymous said...

Hi Amanda and Renee!

Renee, your post comforted me like a cuppa rich hot cocoa on a shivery-cold day.

Aside from my other half (who is a writer of sorts himself) my writing friends are my best source of encouragement. There is nothing in the world better than a phone call from a cherished critique partner to help reign in my sanity - and in turn, provide free psychological assistance for her. Hehe!

I can't wait to meet you at RT this year, Renee. I'm so looking forward the The Midnight Mad Hatter's Historical Tea Party Reader event!

Amanda - You just HAD to ask the ménage question, didn't you?!?

OK, I guess it's "bearing-Genella's-soul" time.

My upbringing taught me to be protective if not shy of my body. My first he-who-must-not-be-named had me on herbalife at age 19 (honestly, I would LOVE to be that weight again.) Somewhere along the line, my over-active psyche twisted the two into an acute embarrassment about my body. Having given birth to three children - one of them at almost 40, didn't help matters either, I assure you.

The act of sex is very sacred to me. It's not giggly, goofy play time or little plastic vibrating woodland creatures - it's two souls blending together, revealing everything sensory, leaving nothing to the imagination.

If all the planets were aligned, the ménage (f/m/m) would be very tempting to me - but both guys would have to be stunningly gorgeous, I would need to trust them implicitly and I'd have be a size 8 with nary a stretch mark marring my epidermis.

Yeah, like THAT'S going to happen.

Renee Bernard said...

I'm up! I'm up! I wasn't asleep. I was chasing my naked three year old daughter around in the garden as she decided that a morning jog in the sprinklers is just what a young highlander needs!

Cecile asked "Did you read your book(s) once they became published? How did you feel once your saw your first book on the shelves at a book store?"

I confess, I have on occasion cracked those books open, if only to marvel that somehow those words came out of this brain and made their way onto an actual page. Yeesh! But that first moment when you stumble across your own book is like no other. My knees were numb and I just stood there like an idiot, grinning and blushing and fighting the temptation to grab the arms of complete strangers and say, "I wrote this! This is me!"

It's addictive...

Renee Bernard said...

Hello, Leontine! Great question, m'lady!

Slumps happen. I think it happens to every writer (though when you're in one, it can feel like you're the only person on the planet facing that &%#% blank screen.) For me, it's about "clearing the boards". I give myself permission to take my fingers off the keyboard, stop banging my head and then I step slowly away from the computer. And ask myself three questions: Am I stuck because I'm forcing a plot point? Am I making a character do something "out of character"? Or am I getting in my own way?

Deep breath. Let it sift for a while and the answer usually comes with a solution on its heels (i.e. fix the plot, let the character dictate the next step or stop overthinking things). And then, if I take that advice and address that specific issue, the rest usually flows.

If not, I go play paper dolls with my daughter, make mud pies, or we put on music and dance around the house and then I just come back another day. ;-)

Renee Bernard said...

Menage... Wow, you know, of all the topics I thought we'd be bouncing around, I'm not sure I'd have guessed that one... But I forgot who I was dealing with, Ms. Amanda!!!

Done right, yes. But done wrong, it's a skipper for me (skipper = turn pages skimming until dreaded sequence is over). It has to be a true emotional/psychological/plot fit and not something just thrown in for shock.

As for romance novels giving women a "mental menage"... hmmmm... I just keep picturing how my heroes would react to that. Some of them are apparently quite flattered. LOL

Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

It is nice to have you here today Ms. Renee!
Running naked with water sprinklers... hummm... Maybe something we should all give a try once in a while...lmao!!! Whew... maybe a little to much Bailey's today!!! LMAO!!!

Well, I am glad that know that is how you feel when you see your hard work sitting on the shelf at a book store. =) It is amazing as a reader to get to "meet" the wonderful people who write what we read... It truly is (you too Ms. Amanda!) It is a treat and a honor!!! But I will hold the story of chasing your daughter to heart! That is funny! And I love how you get out of slumps... Especially when you hang out with your daughter! I have a 15 yr old.. they grow so fast... hanging out with them is precious!!!
I hope you are enjoying the Bailey's that is being passed around now!
Amanda.... are you still there... are did you have a wee bit too much Bailey's... or Menage... LMAO!!!

Renee Bernard said...

I don't think I have enough coffee in the house...

Renee Bernard said...

I'm going to confess that it's equally amazing to get to "talk" to readers like this and to feel so welcomed... It means more than I can say.

As for my little highlander, I'm just one of those weird moms that seems to prefer tea parties and "under the dining room table safaris" to anything else in the world. I guess because she will be 15 sooner than I want her to be, and maybe if we have this time now, she'll remember it later without being too embarrassed by me otherwise. (it's a dream, I realize, but a woman can hope, right?)

Okay, pass me the Bailey's!!!

Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

***passing Bailey's***

Well, it is a pleasure to meet you!

***sipping on just the Bailey's now***
Believe the time invested in your highlander now will pay off in the long run. My daughter is my best friend... And she soon to be driving... all on her own... *downing the Bailey's now* Yikes... lmao! They truly are a treasure from above!
But what I would give for her to be 3 again!!!
**going get another bottle**

Amanda McIntyre said...

Hey Ms, C
Oh my lord! I'm just now getting your early day posts in my email along with the later I have no idea what oreder these are in...especially after all this Baileys today!! LOL
So here's a story...
I just bought my DVD copy of Pete's Dragon the other day(stay with me there is a point...) BECAUSE it is/was one of my daughters (now 28-yes, you do the math) fav movies. When I would hold her in my lap and rock her to sleep, I'd sing to her Candle on the Water.

So now when either of us hears it , its pretty ridonkulous, cuz we get all weepy and giggly and girly...

So most defintely capture those precious moments while you may, for adulthood is just a blink away!

I blame the sandalwood incense...

on the upside-those she may be still asleep in the Netherlands--I sent Leontine her "Build a Hero" story!! woohoo!

I'll be posting in in sections I think next week , here on the blog--
or she will--we need to discuss that.;)

I havent written a Celtic vampyre for a while--it felt good!


Renee Bernard said...

Sandalwood is my fault... ;-)

I'm gonna have to come back for a peek at this celtic vampire. He sounds extremely interesting a.k.a. sexy!

Oh, my! Baileys and blogging makes for a great combination, but I better be more careful about what I say... I can feel a "fox pass" coming on!

Cecile Smutty Hussy said...

OH Amanda.... I love Pete's Dragon!!!!! OMG!!!! When the dragon charred the stick so they could play tic-tac-toe on his belly... and when he was invisible at the school with the bell... omg... I will now have to go find my own copy of this one!!!!
I love that story!! Thank you for sharing that one! And I don't need to add up to know that you are a very young woman!!!! =) And besides to much Bailey for a bookkeeper and adding do not go together.. lol!!!
Oh... I can not wait to see the story of the Celtic Vamp... I am here!! You know where to find me!!!

Ms Renee, I hope you enjoyed our company and Bailey's today... Thanks Ms. A for having her!