I have a shiny new red bicycle!
It’s no big secret that writing is a sedentary and solitary occupation. It’s possible I spend way too much time at the computer–although my word count contradicts me. Consequently, I might have put on a few (and I’m understating this) pounds.
The Foreign Guy and I have been trying find an athletic activity to do together, but our options are limited. We don’t share the same interests.
I love to run. I plan to get back into running. But arthritis has settled into a toe I broke years ago, and for the past few months, running has not been an enjoyable experience. Plus, the Foreign Guy hates to run. HATES it, despite being a sports-minded guy and a speedskater in a former life.
I got a side eye when I suggested yoga. We both hate it, but I’m willing to stretch while watching television at night. I wouldn’t call what I do yoga–not in the traditional sense–but at least I’m off the sofa. He doesn’t care what I call it. He’s having no part of it.
I can’t swim and I have no desire to learn. Which is funny because I spent fifteen years of my life at pools with my sons for swimming lessons, training sessions, and competitions.
That leaves us with bicycling.
The Foreign Guy grew up on a bicycle. He can bicycle circles around me. The last time we visited his family, I was rear-ended by another cyclist (who’d never seen a grown woman take three tries to get a bike in motion), drove into his friend’s parents’ shrubbery, and narrowly avoided being taken out by a car hauling a trailer. Good luck was with me that day.
So in between books being written, and books being released, (for the latest, check out www.paulaaltenburg.com), I plan to take up a new hobby and lose the winter muffin top.
And before I forget, Her Spy to Have is on sale for 99 cents for the month of July! Plus, the third book in the series, His Spy at Night, will be coming in September.
Be sure to leave me a note and tell me how you plan to get your exercise this summer.
What’s your favourite activity?
It’s no secret that I write mostly for women.
Mostly. Not entirely.
When I was little and read books written for boys–and there were many–in my head, if there wasn’t one, I always inserted a girl. IMHO, girl perspectives brought something extra to those stories. While boy books made me think, I looked for books that also made me feel. Those weren’t as common as you’d expect.
As a teenager I was reading westerns I borrowed from my father and Harlequin romances supplied my grandmother. That’s how I got my thinking/feeling fix. (I once referred to Louis L’Amours as romances for guys and I thought the male librarian was going to have a stroke.)
I got my start reading fantasy a little later in life with Thieves’ World. Those books had female protagonists. They were kickass. I was hooked. I moved on to Piers Anthony’s Chronicles of Immortality. After that it was Guy Gavriel Kay, David Eddings, and Terry Goodkind.
But that’s not all I read. Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and M.M. Kaye all factored in.
These days, as a writer, my optimal mix is 50% romance and 50% plot. While I write primarily for women, I want my books to also appeal to those male readers who want a story that makes them feel as well as think.
All of this brings me to the point of my post. Yes, I write for profit. This is my career and I love it. But I also write for fun. I want to share what I love with my reades, and I love ideas (and apparently cowboys). I love exploring “What ifs.” I have enough story outlines to take me through the next decade.
I hope you’ll join me.
A trope is a recurring literary device that’s been proven to appeal to a broad audience. In romance writing, authors often rely on particular tropes when outlining their stories. Some authors do it consciously, others, instinctively. The point is, tropes tend to crop up in stories, particularly successful ones, whether an author means for them to or not.
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
(Yeah. That might be going too far.)
I consciously choose tropes for my contemporary romances. I don’t for my fantasy and paranormal stories though, because I prefer for the romance to grow from the story’s plot and theme. I’m sure the tropes are there–I just don’t make a point of paying attention to them.
You can find dozens of tropes lists on the internet, but to save you some time, you can check one of them out here.
My latest contemporary release Her Spy to Have utilizes three romantic tropes–Enemies to Lovers, Damsel in Distress, and Different Worlds. I also added an Ugly Duckling trope, but it’s not as obvious and is mixed in with Different Worlds and Damsel in Distress. Garrett first sees Isabelle as plain, but later realizes she chooses to make herself inconspicuous. As the attraction between them grows he realizes she’s a chameleon. People presenting themselves as something they’re not is a recurring theme in the story.
Damsel in Distress is actually one of my least favourite tropes. I like my women with backbone. So, while Isabelle in Her Spy to Have definitely starts off in distress, that’s not who she really is. She’s actually very resourceful. She was getting herself out of a bad situation when Garrett enters the picture. To be fair, he’s not really charging to her rescue. He’s suffering from morbid curiosity more than anything.
You can read Chapter One to see what I mean.
This is why tropes are such successful storytelling devices. When an author uses them properly, they’re a starting point only. The whole point of creative writing is to be, well, creative. Don’t have your heroine spending the whole story internally whining about how she’s not beautiful enough for the hero, or the hero obsessing over how she’s not as pretty as his usual type. That’s why using more than one trope gives a story a better effect. Isabelle’s biggest problem really is that she’s a Damsel in Distress, but she’s actively trying to resolve it on her own. Garrett’s biggest problem is that they’re from Different Worlds–he’s a CSIS agent and she’s the daughter of a criminal involved in international espionage. The Enemies to Lovers trope is a problem for them both. They somehow have to resolve the problems the tropes cause them.
If you’ve already read Her Spy to Have, you can get a sneak preview of the second book in the series, Her Spy to Hold, which is coming in May. You can also stay in touch by signing up for my newsletter here to be among the first to find out about upcoming releases.